Democracy is one of the major universal values and principles of the UN. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the principle of holding periodic and fair elections based on universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. These values are enclosed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, reflecting a number of political rights and civil liberties that underpin a truly democratic society.
The rights outlined in the International Covenant on economic, social and cultural rights are equally important for democracy. These rights provide a fair distribution of wealth, as well as equality and equity in access to civil and political rights.
The section on the rule of law and democracy is the reference point of the work of OHCHR in the field of democracy. Section’s work is aimed at developing ideas and working strategies for strengthening democracy. Section provides support and guidance to democratic institutions through technical cooperation and partnerships with relevant UN agencies. If necessary, the OHCHR field missions receive legal and expert advice on relevant issues such as the rights of participation in the context of free and fair elections, a bill to hold a national referendum and training.
The former Commission on Human Rights adopted several key resolutions. For example, in 2000, the Commission recommended a series of legislative, institutional, and practical measures to consolidate democracy
Since its inception in 2006, the Human Rights Council adopted a number of resolutions emphasizing the interdependent and mutually reinforcing relationship between democracy and human rights. Among the latest of such resolutions is Resolution 19/36 Human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In addition to this resolution, OHCHR published a study on the challenges, lessons learned, and best practices to ensure democracy and the rule of law from the perspective of human rights. Based on the study in June 2013, OHCHR gathered a section discussion on these problems with the participation of international experts.
In March 2015, the Human Rights Council accepted a resolution, according to which the Forum on Human Rights was established, democracy and the rule of law with the aim of providing a platform for promoting dialogue and cooperation on issues related to these areas. This forum was held for the first time in 2016.
Democracy is one of the major universal values and principles of the UN. Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the principle of holding periodic and fair elections based on universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy.