International Obligations and Commitments for Democracy
International Human Rights Law, most prominently in the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), lays out a range of minimum requirements states must meet to ensure their citizens’ democratic rights. Whether states meet international standards in relation to safeguarding these individual rights is rightly considered a benchmark on whether they can be considered democratic. The definition of international standards in citizen-state relations has therefore been at the centre of democratic discourse and advocacy for decades.
A second dimension of democratic governance concerns the relationships between state institutions which determine the degree of the separation of powers, the role of parliaments and overall transparency of the political process. It is often argued that existing democracies have such a variety of political systems, that it is not possible to speak about international standards on the relationship of state institutions. And while there appears to be a lack of clarity on such standards in international law, Democracy Reporting International’s continuous study of this body of law works to identify minimum benchmarks for democratic governance.