In the absence of any better world to come, human beings have to find ways of achieving the greatest freedom and fulfillment for themselves and each other in this world. Many humanists from the civilisations of the ancient world, to the political pioneers of the ages of emancipation and enfranchisement, have advanced the view that all people have the right to be involved in choosing, checking and removing those who hold civil authority in their society, that the welfare of every individual in a human community is served by their being treated as equal in dignity, rights and freedom, and that as a result democracy is the system best suited to human welfare.
Valuing the full development of each individual, which requires freedom and security, recognising the interdependence of human beings in society, and seeking to promote the responsible development of civilisation, IHEU supports the democratic principle that human communities should have the ability to freely choose how they are governed and by whom and have mechanisms to hold to account, recall, and change their governments.
IHEU aims at the fullest possible development of democracy throughout the world. Every gain on the road to democracy must be preserved, defended and widened for this purpose and nations without democracy should receive assistance and be supported to achieve it.
Key elements of a good implementation of democracy include:
[b]-In this context, IHEU also supports Article 1.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which says: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right, they freely determine their political status, and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development”
[c]-Specifically, Constitutions should conform to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and ICCPR. These rights include: the protection of everyone’s life by law; the prohibition of torture, slavery and forced labor; the protection of everyone’s liberty and security; the right to a fair trial and no punishment without law; the right to education, the right to respect for private and family life; freedom of thought, conscience, religion and expression (see IHEU’s separate policy statement on each of these items), and equal rights for all adult citizens to vote, regardless of race, religion or belief, gender, sexual orientation, education, wealth, age, health or disability. Voting limits of age, health and disability, should be set and defined by the Constitution.
[d]-To avoid any illegitimate influence on elections and to ensure absence of corruption, elections should be monitored by persons, who are representatives of the people as a whole or, at the request of the government, by persons appointed by the United Nations.
[e]- Also see the IHEU Resolution on Comprehensive Secularism, IHEU General Assembly, Paris, July 2005 and the IHEU Paris Declaration 2005, World Humanist Congress Paris, July 2005.
[f]-An independent judiciary (e.g., a Supreme Court with independent judges, specified by the Constitution) should have the power to declare legislative acts unconstitutional and be able to nullify breaches of procedure by any other powers.
[g]-Some differentiation is, however, legitimate. Examples include: children, elderly people and the disabled; the taxation of income and wealth; the absence of voting rights for children; different treatment for children convicted of crimes; and enjoyment of certain privileges by the elderly and pregnant women.
[h]-IHEU fully supports Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), regarding freedom of assembly and association, and the Conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) concerning the right to organize.
[i]-Government deficit limits, such as a proportion of GDP, to be defined in the Constitution to prevent any government from buying electoral popularity by acquiring excessive loans, incurring excessive expenditure, and in effect mortgaging the nation’s future. Under exceptional circumstances the government could refer to the relevant Legislative bodies o obtain permission (by their super-majority) to exceed previously approved deficit limit.
[j]-A democratic polity should have provisions for facilitating people’s effective participation through pre-legislative consultations with Civil Society, independent media and independent opinion polls, whilst decision-making powers remain with the legislature.
[k]- Like all citizens, government employees should enjoy full civil and political rights, but should be politically and religiously neutral in the exercise of their public duties and impartial in implementing the policy programs of the elected government.
[Information about ratification unknown]
'Democracy [draft by Roy Brown commission]', Humanists International