Democratic Governance: An Emerging Customary Norm?


International law has traditionally regarded the peoples of the world as being represented in the international arena by the governments in de facto control of their respective states. Except where such governments are imposed by foreign invasion or conduct themselves in ways inimical to international peace and security, these governments are conventionally deemed worthy of respect and protection under international law - in particular, respect regarding ‘matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction’ and protection ‘from the threat or use of force’. The method by which a government of domestic origin achieves or retains power was not ordinarily thought of as a basis for withholding such protection. The Article has as its modest aim a general reflection on the enshrinement of democracy as a universal entitlement and the movement of international law in a pro-democratic direction The Article will seek to highlight the general uncertainties that continue to plague the democratic entitlement. The Article deliberately focuses on the United Nations system with reference also being given to regional efforts. The Article does not discuss the legal justifications and nature of measures to address undemocratic regimes. While such measures are significant in pro-democratic discourse, it is beyond the scope of the Article’s general aim of exposing the thorny issues that surround democratic entitlement as a universal right.


Human Rights Law

Date of this Version

May 2006