The UN Role in Promoting Democracy: Between Ideals and by Edward Newman, Roland Rich

By Edward Newman, Roland Rich

The inspiration of democracy is a key precept of the United international locations and underpins a lot of its paintings. This publication considers and questions the modalities, effectiveness and controversies of the UN’s paintings in selling and aiding democracy. It examines if the UN can assist to construct the principles of democracy and even if, as an "external" actor, it might have a major confident impression upon the improvement of democratic governance within societies. It explores how the normative beliefs of democracy have interaction with the realities of energy within the overseas enviornment and within the societies within which the UN works, provideing a well timed research of the customers and barriers of the UN’s paintings during this zone, and of the wider box of democracy advertising.

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10 However clear the language of a UN-sponsored treaty – and it must be admitted that the Covenant does not state explicitly that genuine elections are those open to competition among political parties which enjoy substantially equal freedom to organize and to disseminate their views – and however numerous its ratifications (now over two-thirds of the membership), where the implied right has been widely violated and the violations just as widely ignored by the United Nations, restatement is one important way of rescuing it from inanition.

Yet even in that resolution – which had the operational effect of authorizing the Secretary-General to extend electoral assistance to members requesting it – one could detect the residual tug of influential dissenters. Following the words ‘‘in cooperation with others’’, the Assembly added ‘‘as provided in national constitutions and laws’’, thus implying at least a presumption of legitimacy for restrictions and obstacles more or less carefully embedded in national legislation. Among the organs of the United Nations, the Human Rights Commission has been the principal one driving the normative animation of Article 25.

But Cambodia shows that the United Nations does have the ambition to tackle the large problems. The future of Afghanistan, Congo, and Iraq will tell us much more about the extent of the UN role in global democracy promotion. Until there is an answer to this key question, we must content ourselves with a list of the significant roles the United Nations plays in this field. It can bring international legitimacy to the international community’s efforts, even when it pronounces itself after the event as in Kosovo, and even where it remains ambivalent about the legality of the preceding actions as in Iraq.

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