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Democracy and development

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 July 2009


The discussion on the relationship of democracy and development has only become meaningful after being freed from a purely dogmatic approach. International law, in particular international human rights instruments, commit States' Parties to establish and sustain a government based upon democratic elections and which is politically accountable. Development requires a policy towards achieving conditions where human beings can enjoy freedom from want and fear. Both policies, on democratization and development, are meant to achieve conditions in which human dignity is fully respected and they are therefore mutually reinforcing.

Research Article
Copyright © Academia Europaea 1999

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1. See paragraph 32 of the Agenda for Development adopted by the UN General Assembly through Resolution 51/240, 20 June 1997. This principle has also been emphasized in a draft resolution submitted by Algeria and other developing countries on the strengthening of United Nations actions in the human rights field (UN Doc. A/C.3/53/L.44 of 10 November 1998). The title is actually misleading. This resolution attempts to limit respective activities of the United Nations.

2 Governance is a multi-faceted concept encompassing all aspects of the exercise of authority through formal and informal institutions in the management of the resource endowment of a State.

3. International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (1994) Governance: The World Bank's Experience, p. 23. See also (1998) Development and Human Rights: The Role of the World Bank, which emphasizes at least that sustainable development is impossible without human rights and that the advancement of human rights is impossible without development (p. 2).

4. OECD Development Assistance Committee, Draft Orientation Paper on Participatory Development, Good Governance, Human Rights and Democratization, 1997.

5. A/RES. 217 A (III), 10 December 1948.

6. A/RES. 41/128, 4 December 1986, annex.

7. UN Doc. A/C.3/53/L. 58/Rev. 1, 23 November 1998. The deliberations took place on the basis of a draft accepted by the Commission on Human Rights by consensus. In the Resolution the linkage with the Universal Declaration is emphasized. The industrialized States objected thereto; the Resolution was adopted in the Third Committee of the General Assembly against the vote of the United States whereas member States of the European Union abstained.

8. Operative paragraph 5.

9. UN Doc. A/C.2/52/SR. 12, para. 20 (7 November 1997).

10. Doc. A/C.2/52/SR.4, 6 February 1998 and A/52/PV.51 (21 November 1997).

11. A/CONF.157/24 (Part I), chapter III, para. 8.

12. /52/PV. 51(21 November 1997), an approach which has now been highlighted in the Resolution on the Right to Development (see Note 7).

13. Article 55 (a).

14. For details see Wolfrum, R. (1994) The Charter of the United Nations, Simma, B. (ed), Article 55 (a) and (b), paras. 21 et seq.Google Scholar

15. A/RES. S—18/3, 1 May 1990.

16. See Note 1.

17. See Note 6.

18. The rights are taken from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (see Note 5) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, 1966.

19. Second and third preambular paragraph of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (at note 18).

20. It would surpass the scope of this paper to identify all possible aspects of how to promote economic development of human beings, only those will be addressed which have a direct bearing upon the status and rights of individuals.

21. Agenda for Development (at note 1), para. 31.

22. Agenda for Development (at note 1), para. 175.

23. Para. 176 (at note 1).

24. The Agenda for Development (at note 1), para. 178 does not cover this point adequately. It merely calls upon governments to establish institutional and legal frameworks and decentralized processes that allow their people greater involvement in decisions that affect their lives.

25. Underlined by Jamaica speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community, UN Doc. A/C.2/52/SR. 6, 20 February 1998, para. 85; UNESCO ibid SR. 3, 11 February 1998, para. 77.

26. Para. 110 (at note 1).

27. For example, Tunisia UN Doc. A/C.2/52/SR.4, 6 February 1998, para. 8.

28. See at note 5.

29. AIRES. 1514 (XV), 14 December 1960.

30. AIRES. 50/133 of 20 December 1995 and 51/31 of 6 December 1996; see also Agenda for Democratization, 1997, paras. 6 et seq.

31. Partsch, K. J. (1981) Freedom of Conscience and Expression, Political Freedoms. In The International Bill of Rights, Henkin, L. (ed.), 209 at 239.Google Scholar

32. Clearly stated in the Resolution on the Right to Development (note 7), para. 5(d).