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Democracy in International Law: A European Perspective


For lawyers in general, and international lawyers in particular, democracy is a neglected concept. Discourse is dominated by the ideas of human rights for individuals and minority or self-determination rights for groups. Those who seek greater protection for vulnerable members of a community argue for the recognition of new rights, or the more effective implementation of existing rights. They do not argue for more democracy. Indeed, given that claims for human and minority rights are not made only against authoritarian governments, but also democratic ones, there must exist an implied assumption that democracy is, by itself, not capable of protecting the interests of vulnerable minorities. Moreover, as the form of government which apparently venerates the will of the majority, democracy might be considered by some as being downright hostile to the interests of individuals and minorities.

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E Weede , ‘Some Simple Calculations on Democracy and War Involvement’, 29 Journal of Peace Research (1992) 377.

T Franck , ‘The Emerging Right to Democratic Governance’, 86 AJIL (1992) 46

H Quane , ‘The United Nations and the Evolving Right to Self-Determination’, 47 ICLQ (1998) 537, 571.

P Thornberry , ‘Self-Determination, Minorities, Human Rights: A Review of International Instruments’, 38 ICLQ (1989) 867, 878.

M Walzer , ‘The Politics of Difference: Statehood and Toleration in a Multicultural World’, 10 Ratio Juris (1997) 165, 166.

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International & Comparative Law Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0020-5893
  • EISSN: 1471-6895
  • URL: /core/journals/international-and-comparative-law-quarterly
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