Can democracy protect human freedoms?


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Can democracy protect human freedoms?

  1. 1. Can Democracy Protect Human Freedoms?
  2. 2. Can Democracy Protect Human Freedoms? • To deal with the question, let’s define – Democracy – Human freedoms • Do the two affect each other? If yes, how? • Factors affecting the relationship between democracy and human freedoms • Further thoughts
  3. 3. What is democracy? • What we have been talking for the past few weeks… 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
  4. 4. 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 Enlightenment
  5. 5. 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.
  6. 6. From human freedoms to civil liberties • Civil Liberties are a list of rights and freedoms developed based on the UN Human Rights Declaration • Practical implementation of the human freedoms ideals • According to Bova, minimal package of civil liberties – Rights of association – Opposition – And free speech and expression
  7. 7. Democracy ≠ Civil Liberties • Some democracies can be more “liberal” than the others. – 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 democracy?
  8. 8. 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 Internet Freedom – Freedom of Expression and Belief – Association and Organizational Rights (e.g. freedom of assembly) – Rule of Law – Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
  9. 9. Political rights and Civil Liberties Score differences No difference 49% 1 point difference 34% 2 point difference 17% No. of countries Source: Freedom House 2012 Suggest a relationship between levels of Political Rights and Civil Liberties.
  10. 10. 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
  11. 11. Democracy and Human Rights • Electoral Democracies scored better on Average • Ok, but why?
  12. 12. Possible Factors Affecting The Relationship • Cultural inheritance? • Time and quality of the Democracy? • The economic factor? • Existence of electoral activities? • Repression and Rebellion reactions?
  13. 13. 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 Jewish).
  14. 14. Democracy and Western Culture West European, European settled, or Latin American countries 64% East European 10% Former colonies or Britain, the US or Australia 16% Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Mongolia, Namibia and Senegal, hevay influenced by US 10% Source: 1993-1994 Freedom House ratings Distribution of democratic countries 1993-1994
  15. 15. 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 American – Penetration of Western Christianity
  16. 16. Democracy, Culture and Human Rights
  17. 17. 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 Americas’ average – Time alone may not be the key
  18. 18. The Economic Factor • There is a connection between economic prosperity and human rights performance • The connection works stronger in more western democracies. • 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
  19. 19. 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.
  20. 20. Electoral Activities
  21. 21. Electoral Activities • 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 elections.
  22. 22. Summarizing… • High level of respect for human rights and liberties is most likely found in relatively prosperous Western countries – 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.
  23. 23. Further thoughts: 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. year-anniversary • Comparing China, Soviet Union and with the U.S., who fought more wars?
  24. 24. Further thoughts 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 activities • Servitude (奴役) & Anarchy (無政府狀態) • Doubt: The principle: Majority rules, minority protected  Populism?
  25. 25. Further thoughts: Hong Kong • 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?
  26. 26. Political rights & civil liberties Hong Kong 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 CL PR
  27. 27. Further thoughts: Ukraine • Ukraine is considered a democratic state. (Freedom House 2000) • In 2010, watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said "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 media pluralism".
  28. 28. References • Bova, Russell (1997). “Democracy and Liberty: The Cultural Connection”, Journal of Democracy, 112-126, Vol. 8, No. 1, January. • 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, 2012/methodology • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights,