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International standards

OHCHR and democracy

There is an interdependence between democracy and other concepts such as human rights, rule of law, peace and sustainable development. As such, democratic tenets and participation rights are mentioned in many international treaties and commitments. The two core standards are:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly in 1948, which elaborated on an essential element of democracy by proclaiming that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” and guaranteeing to everyone the rights that are essential for effective political participation.
  • The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted by the Assembly in 1966, which conferred binding legal status on the right of individuals to participate in the processes that constitute the conduct of public affairs, and further strengthened the protection accorded to participatory rights and freedoms.

Other materials

The documents and texts mentioned below include the following: constitutive acts, treaties, charters, declarations of principles, protocols, guidelines, plans of action, strategies, codes of conduct and codes of good practices, recommendations and regulations.

Regardless of their legally binding status, the value of these documents and texts rests on their acceptance and recognition by a large number of actors. They provide guidance and are an important source of information to those involved in the promotion and consolidation of democracy. It is a useful resource for States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies and academics and other specialists who would like to do comparative research in this area.

Regional and subregional organizations


  1. African Union (AU)
    1. African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights
    2. Constitutive Act of the African Union
    3. Lomé Declaration of July 2000 on the framework for an OAU response to unconstitutional changes of government
    4. Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA)
    5. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
    6. African Union Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, AHG/Decl.1 (XXXVIII), 2002
    7. Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Excerpts)
  2. Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
    1. Bata Declaration for the Promotion of Lasting Democracy, Peace and Development in Central Africa
  3. Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
    1. Treaty of ECOWAS
    2. Declaration of Political Principles of the ECOWAS (A/DCL.1/7/91)
    3. Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (A/SP1/12/01)
  4. Southern African Development Community (SADC)
    1. Treaty of the SADC
    2. The SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP)
    3. SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections
  5. Arab Region
    1. Sana'a Declaration on Democracy, Human Rights and the Role of the International Criminal Court, January 2004
  6. League of Arab States
    1. Tunis Declaration
    2. Arab Charter on Human Rights


  1. European Union
    1. Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union
    2. Resolution of the council and of the member states meeting in the council on human rights, democracy and development
    3. Council Regulation (EC) No 976/1999 of 29 April 1999
    4. The Cotonou Agreement
  2. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
    1. The Conference on the Human dimension of the CSCE
    2. Vienna Mechanism
    3. Moscow Mechanism
    4. Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE
    5. Charter of Paris for a New Europe
  3. Council of Europe - Venice Commission
    1. Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters (July 2002)
    2. Guidelines for Constitutional Referendums at National Level
    3. Guidelines on Prohibition and Dissolution of Political Parties and Analogous Measures
    4. Guidelines on the Financing of Political Parties

The Americas

  1. Organization of American States (OAS)
    1. Inter-American Democratic Charter
    2. Promotion and Strengthening of Democracy: Follow-up to the Inter-American Democratic Charter
    3. Declaration of Santiago on Democracy and Public Trust: A New Commitment to Good Governance for the Americas
    4. Declaration of Nuevo León
    5. Draft Declaration of Quito on Social Development and Democracy, and the Impact of Corruption
  2. Andean Community
    1. Declaration about Democracy and Integration
    2. Additional Protocol to the Cartagena Agreement "Andean Community Commitment to Democracy"
    3. Machu Picchu Declaration on Democracy, the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the War against Poverty
    4. Andean Charter for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights
  3. Organization of Iberoamerican States (OEI) (in Spanish)
    1. Declaración de Concepción (in Spanish)
  4. Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericana (SICA)
    1. Tegucigalpa Protocol to the Charter of the Organization of Central American States (ODECA)
    2. Alliance for the Sustainable Development of Central America
    3. Framework Treaty on Democratic Security in Central America
  5. Mercosur (in Spanish)
    1. Declaracion Presidencial Sobre Compromiso Democratico en el Mercosur (in Spanish)
    2. Protocolo de Ushuaia Sobre Compromiso Democrático en el Mercosur, la Republica de Bolivia y la Republica de Chile (in Spanish)
  6. The Rio Group
    1. Acapulco Commitment to peace, Development and Democracy
    2. Asunción Declaration
    3. Declaration on the Defence of Democracy
    4. Cartagena Commitment to Democracy
    5. Declaración sobre Democracia (in Spanish)
    6. The Cusco Consensus « Democratic Governance: Defence and Consolidation of Democracy », May 2003

Other intergovernmental organizations

  1. Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF)
    1. Bamako Declaration
    2. Beirut Declaration
  2. The Commonwealth
    1. The Harare Commonwealth Declaration, 1991
    2. The Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration, 1995
    3. Aso Rock Commonwealth Declaration on Development and Democracy: Partnership for Peace and Prosperity

Other entities

  1. International Conference of new or Restored Democracies
    1. The Fifth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies
    2. Ulaanbaatar Plan of Action: Democracy, Good Governance
  2. Community Of Democracies
    1. Toward a Community of Democracies Ministerial Conference
    2. Seoul Plan of Action: Democracy Investing for Peace and Prosperity

Inter-parliamentary organizations

  1. Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU)
    1. Universal Declaration on Democracy
    2. Ensuring Lasting Democracy by Forging Close Links Between Parliament and the People
    3. Parliaments' Role in Strengthening Democratic Institutions and Human Development in a Fragmented World
    4. Report of the Parliamentary Forum on the occasion of the Fifth Conference of New or Restored Democracies

United Nations and specialized agencies

  1. United Nations
    1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
    2. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
    3. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, June 1993
    4. United Nations Millennium Declaration
  2. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
    1. Declaration of Montevideo
    2. World Plan of Action on Education for Human Rights and Democracy, and Contributions to the Preparation of a Declaration on Academic Freedom
    3. Seoul Recommendations on Democracy and Tolerance
    4. Declaration (Geneva, Switzerland, 1994) and Integrated Framework of Action on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Democracy (PARIS, 1995)
    5. UNESCO Integrated Strategy on Democracy within the Framework of the International Centre for Human Sciences - Byblos

This compilation was prepared on the basis of paragraph 14 of Commission on Human Rights resolution 2003/36 which requested OHCHR to prepare a compilation of documents or texts adopted and used by various intergovernmental, international, regional and subregional organizations aimed at promoting and consolidating democracy. OHCHR aims to keep this list updated. If you noticed any errors or omissions, please contact [email protected].