Can Democracy Protect Human
• To deal with the question, let’s define
– Human freedoms
• Do the two affect each other? If yes, how?
• Factors affecting the relationship between
democracy and human freedoms
• Further thoughts
What is democracy?
• What we have been talking for the past few
1. A highly inclusive level of political participation in
selecting leaders and policies
2. Meaningful opposition/contestation
3. Civil liberties
• Electoral Democracy (1 + 2) or Liberal Democracy
(1 + 2 + 3)?
• Today, we take “Electoral Democracy”
– To separate measurement on level of political rights
and civil liberties and to see the relationship between
What are the basic Human Freedoms?
• Article 1. [The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the United Nations]
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity
and rights. They are endowed with reason and
conscience and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood.
• The Declaration was the result of the
experience of the WWII.
• Earlier origin - an idea developed during
Some examples from the declaration
• Right to life, liberty and security of person
• No slavery or servitude and free from subjection to torture or to
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
• Right to recognition everywhere as a person before law and entitled
to equal protection by the law without discrimination
• Right to free choices
• Right to freedom of movement and residence within the state; and
the freedom to emigrate and return
• Right to property
• Right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion
• Right to freedom of opinion and expression
• Right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association
• Right to take part in the government
• Right to free education
• Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and
full development of his personality is possible.
From human freedoms to civil liberties
• Civil Liberties are a list of rights and freedoms
developed based on the UN Human Rights
• Practical implementation of the human freedoms
• According to Bova, minimal package of civil
– Rights of association
– And free speech and expression
Democracy ≠ Civil Liberties
• Some democracies can be more “liberal” than
– even in democracies, human rights can be violated.
– E.g. in the U.K., slavery was allowed; in the U.S.,
homosexuality was prohibited.
• Liberty: a consequence or a precondition of
Political rights and Civil liberties
• Political rights: measure the level of rights to
political participation and contestation
– Electoral Process
– Political Pluralism and Participation
– Functioning of Government
• Civil liberties: individual liberties including
– Freedom of Expression and Belief
– Association and Organizational Rights (e.g. freedom of
– Rule of Law
– Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
Political rights and Civil Liberties
No. of countries
Source: Freedom House 2012
Suggest a relationship between levels of Political Rights and Civil Liberties.
Political rights and Civil Liberties
Political rights and Civil Liberties Scores distribution
Count of Countries Civil Liberties
Political Rights 1 - Highest 2 3 4 5 6 7 - Lowest N/A Grand Total
1 - Highest 48 11 59
2 1 17 7 25
3 3 15 11 29
4 7 7 4 18
5 1 7 5 1 14
6 3 19 10 32
7 - Lowest 2 7 9 18
Data not available 10 10
Grand Total 49 31 30 28 30 18 9 10 205
Source: Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House 2012
Democracy and Human Rights
• Electoral Democracies scored better on Average
• Ok, but why?
Possible Factors Affecting The
• Cultural inheritance?
• Time and quality of the Democracy?
• The economic factor?
• Existence of electoral activities?
• Repression and Rebellion reactions?
Culture: Western or non-western?
• Factor 1:
– European or owing to European Colonization,
characterized by significant European settlement
• Factor 2:
– Whether a country has a majority of Western
Christians (only Catholics and Protestants) or
Democracy and Western Culture
settled, or Latin
or Britain, the US
influenced by US
Source: 1993-1994 Freedom House ratings
Distribution of democratic countries 1993-1994
Culture: Western or non-western?
• Clear-cut Western Countries
– America, Canada, Australia, the UK, etc.
– Non-western European countries
• Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia
• Ambiguity of both the East European and Latin
– Penetration of Western Christianity
Time and quality
• Time: stability of the democracy?
• Quality: functioning of democratic government
• Human Rights performances:
– 1st: Western Democracy, e.g. France, the U.S.
– 2nd: East-European or Latin American Democracies, e.g.
Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland
– 3rd: Non-western Democracy, e.g. Japan, S. Korea
• Latin American Democracies vs. India
– India’s Human Rights scores is ~20 points lower than Latin
– Time alone may not be the key
The Economic Factor
• There is a connection between economic
prosperity and human rights performance
• The connection works stronger in more
• According to Humana’s 1991 findings
GNP per capita Average Human Rights Score
Latin America Asia and Africa
< $1500 67.1 64.5
>= $1500 79.1 61.3
Democracy, Repression, Rebellion,
Personal Integrity Abuse
• Better democracy, less opportunity to use
repression, less personal integrity abuse; or at
least less fatal personal integrity abuse.
• Economic factor plays a role too.
– Better economy, less repression
– Better economic growth, rebellion are more
resourceful but the regime would play less repression
• Demographic factor:
– More densely populated, higher opportunity of state
terrorism, the higher chance of rebellion and higher
chance of repression.
• Lindberg suggested below reason why elections advance
democracy in Africa
– Citizens become voters
– Democratic “Lock-in” mechanisms
– Self-fulfilling prophecies
– Civic organizations
– New roles for the institutions
– The role of the media
Promote civil rights and indirectly value human freedoms of individuals
• Even countries that at first glance may not seem to possess
the necessary preconditions for democratic rule may still
benefit from participatory, competitive, and legitimate
• High level of respect for human rights and liberties is
most likely found in relatively prosperous Western
– With a longstanding practice of what is called by Diamond
a electoral democratic government.
• Democracy can co-exist with human rights abuses
however with better check and balances, the severity
of abuses is still less than that in authoritarian regimes.
• Democratic government incorporates a minimal degree
of liberty, the level of respect for liberty beyond that
minimum can vary widely.
Implications on foreign policy
• Promotion of democracy can foster promotion of
civil liberties and expansion of human freedoms
• Can it be used as an excuse to fire military actions
towards other countries? If human freedoms are
what we concern, are military actions justified?
• E.g. the U. S.
• Comparing China, Soviet Union and with the U.S.,
who fought more wars?
Democracy = liberties?
• 19th century: European liberals resisted the
ideas of democracy
• Political equality and democracy bring with
them a natural tendency toward
governmental centralization and
governmental intrusion into spheres of
• Servitude (奴役) & Anarchy (無政府狀態)
• Doubt: The principle: Majority rules, minority
• Hong Kong
– Pre-1997: no universal suffrage, no election on
our Legco members; a colonial territory
– Post-1997: universal suffrage on certain seats of
Legco members; handed over to home-country
– Increase of democratic elements?
– Increase in political rights?
– Increase in human freedoms?
Political rights & civil liberties
Further thoughts: Ukraine
• Ukraine is considered a democratic state.
(Freedom House 2000)
• In 2010, watchdog Reporters Without Borders
"multiple press freedom violations" had been
recorded since Viktor Yanukovych's election as
head of state. RSF added that "serious
conflicts of interest are menacing Ukraine's
• Bova, Russell (1997). “Democracy and Liberty: The Cultural
Connection”, Journal of Democracy, 112-126, Vol. 8, No. 1,
• Freedom in the World 2012, Freedom House 2012
• Lee, James Ray (1997). “The Democratic Path to Peace”,
Journal of Democracy, 48-64, Vol. 8, No. 2, April 1997.
• Lindberg, Staffan I. (2006). “The Surprising Significance of
African Elections”, Journal of Democracy, 139-151, Vol. 7,
No. 1, January 2006.
• Methodology, Freedom House 2012,
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
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