International and Comparative Law Quarterly


Democracy in International Law: A European Perspective

Steven Wheatley*

For lawyers in general, and international lawyers in particular, democracy is a neglected concept. Discourse is dominated by the ideas of human rights for individuals and minority or self-determination rights for groups. Those who seek greater protection for vulnerable members of a community argue for the recognition of new rights, or the more effective implementation of existing rights. They do not argue for more democracy. Indeed, given that claims for human and minority rights are not made only against authoritarian governments, but also democratic ones, there must exist an implied assumption that democracy is, by itself, not capable of protecting the interests of vulnerable minorities. Moreover, as the form of government which apparently venerates the will of the majority, democracy might be considered by some as being downright hostile to the interests of individuals and minorities.


* Law School, University of Liverpool. My thanks to Professor Dominic McGoldrick for his comments on an earlier draft. The usual caveats apply.