Democracy Support

Democracy is one of the fundamental values of the human being. The United Nations supports democracy by promoting human rights, development, peace and security. In the 75 years since the signing of the United Nations Charter, the United Nations has made more efforts to support democracy worldwide than any other global organization. The United Nations promotes good governance, monitors elections, supports civil society to strengthen democratic institutions, ensures self-determination in decolonized countries, and helps draft new constitutions in countries emerging from conflict. United Nations activities in support of democracy are implemented through the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Democracy Fund, the Department of Peace Operations, the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). When the founders of the United Nations drafted the Charter of the United Nations, including Iraq, they did not mention the word democracy, and in 1945 many member states of the United Nations neither endorsed nor practiced democracy as a system. However, the charter's opening words, "We the Peoples," reflect the fundamental principle of democracy - that the will of the people is the source of legitimacy for sovereign states and, therefore, the United Nations as a whole. The UN does not advocate a specific model of government but promotes democratic governance as a set of values and principles. which must be pursued for greater participation, equality, security and human development. Democracy provides an environment that respects human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in which the will of the people that is freely expressed is exercised, people have a say in decisions and can hold decision-makers to account, women and men have equal rights and all people are free from discrimination. These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and introduces the concept of democracy by saying, "The will of the people is the basis of government authority." Rather, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights develops it and lays the legal basis for the principles of democracy in international law. It also covers freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly, and the right to freedom of association with others. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women requires that the 189 Contracting Parties take all appropriate measures to ensure that women are able to vote, stand for election and participate in public life and decision-making, including at the international level.

Since 1988, the General Assembly has adopted at least one resolution each year in which some aspect of democracy is addressed. In 2015, world leaders committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to create a world in which “democracy, good governance and the rule of law, as well as an enabling environment at the national and international levels, are essential for sustainable development.” The agenda reaffirmed the commitments made earlier at the 2005 World Summit and in the Millennium Declaration. The values of freedom, respect for human rights, and the principle of periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. Democracy, in turn, provides that natural environment necessary for the efficient protection and implementation of human rights. Over the course of several years, the United Nations General Assembly and the former Commission on Human Rights have sought to draw upon international human rights instruments to advance a common understanding of the principles and values of democracy. As a result, in 2000 the Commission recommended a set of important legislative, institutional and practical measures in order to support democracy, and in 2002, the Commission declared the following principles as essential components of democracy: respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, freedom of association, freedom of expression and opinion, access to authority and its exercise within the framework of the rule of law, organizing free and fair periodic elections on the basis of universal suffrage and secret voting as an expression of the will of the people, creating a system for the plurality of political parties and organizations, separation of powers, independence of the judiciary, providing transparency and accountability in public administration, and creating free and independent media and pluralism. Since its inception in 2006, the Human Rights Council has adopted a number of resolutions that highlight the interdependent and close relationship between democracy and human rights. Recent examples include Resolutions 19/36 and 28/14 on “Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law”.