Developing a Right to Democracy in International Law: Protection by the Rule of Law?

“We reaffirm that human rights, the rule of law and democracy are interlinked and mutually reinforcing and that they belong to the universal and indivisible core values and principles of the United Nations.” (United Nations Declaration of the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on the Rule of Law at the National and International Levels (2012)). The United Nations Declaration represents a familiar claim about the relationship between democracy and the rule of law domestically and internationally. However, as Hillary Charlesworth notes, scarce evidence exists for an individual or human right to democracy at international law. Thus there exists no express individual right to democracy for the rule of law to protect or incorporate into international law. This paper examines the problems with, and the possibilities for, developing an international human right to democracy, and its relationship with the rule of law internationally and domestically in the Asian and Australian context.