Re: Is democracy a prerequisite for human rights?

Democracy – or that is to say the right to elect one’s government; to have the rule of law; to have a civil society – those are all rights issues. In order to have a democracy, you really do have respect for a broad range of rights. It’s hard to conceive . . . In fact almost ___________, if you don’t have democracy, you won’t have respect for basic rights. The real problem though is that many people take a . . . a sort of a narrow conception of democracy and equate that with rights. And that equation is wrong. You find this where governments – you know from Reagan all the way up to the current Bush administration – have tried to promote mere elections as being the . . . the . . . the full scope of the human rights agenda. And if we can just, you know, get a government to hold an election – regardless of how corrupt it is; regardless of what’s done to . . . to imprison the opposition; or to shut down the opposition newspaper; or to get rid of dissidents – we’ll still call it a democracy because they held an election, and then everything’s fine. We can ignore their human rights record. That superficial notion which, unfortunately, tends to prevail all too frequently in Washington . . . that in no . . . that has very little to do with a human rights agenda. But I think a more sophisticated . . . a fuller understanding of democracy is very compatible indeed . . . to a larger extent equates with a complete human rights agenda

The two go hand in hand, says Roth.

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