People all over the world argue for democracy, which is meant to ensure people’s basic rights. This democracy essay examines the human rights enabled by a democratic government.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948 states that every human being is born free and entitled equal dignity and rights. The concepts inherited in a democracy allow basic rights for all through processes such as general elections, direct access to policymakers and fair trials. The democratic governing systems throughout the world have both helped pave the way for basic guaranteed rights and seen the development of issues that stand in the way of these protected freedoms.
People’s rights are integral in a democratic society because citizens are meant to have control over the government processes. In order for laws to protect and represent everyone, communication is essential. Freedom of speech is, therefore, an important right in any democracy. Included here is the transfer of knowledge to create an informed population. The right to a quality education creates citizens with the data, evidence, and ideas to function and operate a democracy (Inglis 2004). People have the right to be educated and to educate with free flow of information.
The free spread of ideas is not a perfect process. If people are not careful, there is false information that can hinder society. Informed debates and decision-making are stalled by what many call “fake news,” which arises from free speech (Gray 2017). Rather than retracting human rights, however, combating false information with more education is the solution to this issue in a democracy.
Freedom of assembly is another democratic staple, allowing individuals to assemble peacefully and speak directly with their government representatives. While this idea is made for a sovereign citizenship that can influence policymaking, it doesn’t work if representatives don’t listen to their constituents. There have been instances of representatives shirking this aspect of their duties in America (Doxsey 2017). This failure in representations makes it difficult for a society to fully realize their rights to freedom of speech and assembly, which are meant to allow their voices to be heard.
Without law and order, people cannot exercise their rights. The government must then maintain the law on behalf of the people. For this to occur without impinging on a person’s rights, there must be a fair trial. There are many systems to ensure a fair trial, but they are not always perfect. For instance, a court’s failure to provide court interpreters can prevent the guaranteed fairness of the outcome (Bowcott 2010). If a trial is not conducted correctly, there is a risk that innocent individuals will be robbed of their liberties.
Since democracy is the rule of the majority, people’s rights may become at risk if minority concerns are ignored. Without procedures to empower groups that are vulnerable, the majority rule might deny minority rights (Frickey 1985). This can be seen in the case of voting rights. In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled to relax the Voting Rights Act. Since then, politicians have increased voting restrictions which decrease voting booth accessibility for minorities (Walsh 2015). Everyone’s right to vote in a democracy is diluted if this process is not accessible.
Human rights are required if a democracy is to function as intended. Although the systems are not perfect, it is possible to discover the flaws in a democracy and fix them by listening to the people’s thoughts. Dialogue on the issues can help ensure that all citizens are afforded their basic human rights.
- Gray, Richard. (2017 March 1). Lies, propaganda, and fake news: A challenge for our age. BBC. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170301-lies-propaganda-and-fake-news-a-grand-challenge-of-our-age
- Inglis, Fred, ed. (2004). Education and the Good Society. Palgrave McMillan Ltd.
- Doxsey, Patricia. (2017 February 9). Some of Rep. Faso’s constituents find new congressman inaccessible. Daily Freeman. http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20170209/some-of-rep-fasos-constituents-find-new-congressman-inaccessible
- Frickey, Philip P. (1985). Majority Rule, Minority Rights, and the Right to Vote: Reflections upon a Reading of Minority Vote Dilution.
- Law & Inequality. http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/facpubs/1831/
- Walsh, Kenneth. (2015 August 4). Voting Rights Still a Hot-Button Issue. U.S. News. https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/08/04/voting-rights-still-a-political-issue-50-years-later
- UN General Assembly. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations, 217 (III) A, 1948, Paris, art. 1, http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/.
- Bowcott, Owen. (2010 October 23). Suspects ‘denied fair trial’ by shortage of court interpreters. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/oct/23/suspects-remanded-shortage-court-interpreters