ABSTRACT

Democracy and human rights have historically been regarded as distinct phenomena, occupying different areas of the political sphere: the one a matter of the organization of government, the other a question of individual rights and their defence. When we speak of democracy, we have learnt to think of institutional arrangements such as competitive elections, multi-partyism, the separation of powers, and so forth. These are essentially matters of constitutional order, and of the organization of public power. Human rights, on the other hand, take the individual as their point of reference, and seek to guarantee to individuals the minimum necessary conditions for pursuing a distinctively human life. Moreover, as the term ‘human’ implies, such rights have always been defined as universal in their scope, and subject to international definition and regulation, whereas the constitutional arrangements of government have traditionally been regarded as entirely an internal matter for the state concerned, since they comprise the essence of ‘sovereignty’. These distinctions have been further reinforced by an academic division of labour which has assigned the study of democracy to political science, and of human rights to law and jurisprudence: two disciplines which, in the Anglo-Saxon world at least, have had very little connection with one another. 1