Human Rights and
International Democratic Solidarity


International Relations and Human Rights Observatory


Democracy and global peace

If the path to world peace depends on the globalization of democracy, then countries with governments based on the standards of article 12 of the Universal Declaration on Democracy must adopt international democratic solidarity as a fundamental axis of its foreign policy on human rights and do so without double standards.
By Gabriel C. Salvia

Russia's military invasion and attack on Ukraine is in part the result of international complacency with the autocratic regime of Vladimir Putin. History shows that people can always expect the worst from dictators and in the case of Putin there were already precedents. For this reason, rather than inviting Putin to legitimize himself in meetings such as the G20 Summit, we must commit to those in Russia who peacefully promote human rights and political openness. And the same applies to other autocracies.

Human rights are universal and, therefore, democracy is a universal right, despite those from the right and left who seek to play them down and thus justify regimes of political slavery. That is to say, the civil and political liberties recognized mainly in articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 19, 20 and 21 of the declaration adopted on December 10, 1948, are universal human rights, for those who live in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, China, Russia and any country or territory in the world.

And experience shows that democratic countries, which guarantee these rights, despite their differences between them, coexist peacefully and resolve their disputes through diplomatic channels.

It is about taking seriously what is established in the Universal Declaration on Democracy, adopted in 1997 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which in its article 3 establishes that “As an ideal, democracy aims essentially to preserve and promote the dignity and fundamental rights of the individual, to achieve social justice, foster the economic and social development of the community, strengthen the cohesion of society and enhance national tranquility, as well as to create a climate that is favorable for international peace. As a form of government, democracy is the best way of achieving these objectives; it is also the only political system that has the capacity for self-correction.”

The countries that guarantee what is established in this article, not by chance, are those that the Democracy Index, published by The Economist, qualifies as full democracies and at the same time those that attract the greatest flow of immigrants. In this index, Russia qualifies as an autocracy.

In turn, article 12 of this Declaration establishes that “the key element in the exercise of democracy is the holding of free and fair elections at regular intervals enabling the people’s will to be expressed. These elections must be held on the basis of universal, equal and secret suffrage so that all voters can choose their representatives in conditions of equality, openness and transparency that stimulate political competition. To that end, civil and political rights are essential, and more particularly among them, the rights to vote and to be elected, the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, access to information and the right to organise political parties and carry out political activities. Party organisation, activities, finances, funding and ethics must be properly regulated in an impartial manner in order to ensure the integrity of the democratic processess.”

Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and other countries with autocratic governments do not comply with the provisions of article 12 of the Universal Declaration on Democracy and therefore it is not appropriate for the countries that respect this declaration to grant equal treatment to authorities that lack democratic legitimacy.

The latter has motivated the adoption of democratic provisions, mainly in Latin America, although they have become irrelevant and yet many democratic countries in the region coexist with autocracies without questioning it, as happens in CELAC.

Now, if the path to world peace depends on the globalization of democracy, then countries with governments based on the standards of article 12 of the Universal Declaration on Democracy must adopt international democratic solidarity as a fundamental axis of its foreign policy on human rights and do so without double standards.

And here applies one of the most advanced provisions on the matter. This is article 27 of the Universal Declaration on Democracy, referring to its international dimension: “A democracy should support democratic principles in international relations. In that respect, democracies must refrain from undemocratic conduct, express solidarity with democratic governments and non-State actors like nongovernmental organisations which work for democracy and human rights and extend solidarity to those who are victims of human rights violations at the hands of undemocratic regimes.”

This is one of the reasons behind the support for Ukraine, a democratic country that has been the victim of armed aggression by an autocracy.

But nevertheless, several democratic countries have avoided condemning the criminal Russian military invasion, prioritizing economic or geopolitical interests, and hiding behind the "national interest." They act as if they had learned nothing from the tragedy of World War II.

The greatest "national interest" of a democratic country must be the defense of human dignity above economic benefits or geopolitical interests.

Political realism may include maintaining official diplomatic relations, including commercial exchanges and consular assistance in autocratic states, but recognition, support and protection must never be neglected for those who promote universal human rights in dictatorial contexts.

If world peace is truly desired, instead of flirting with dictatorships and deludingly hoping that countries like Putin's Russia or Xi Jinping's China - without freedom of the press, credible statistics and alternation in power - will contribute something to a better global future; It is therefore appropriate to adopt a greater democratic commitment.

Gabriel C. Salvia
Gabriel C. Salvia
General Director of CADAL
International human rights activist. Since 1992 he has served as director of Civil Society Organizations and is a founding member of CADAL. As a journalist he worked in graphics, radio and TV. Compiled several books, among them "Diplomacy and Human Rights in Cuba" (2011), "Human rights in international relations and foreign policy" (2021) and "75 years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Views from Cuba" (2023), and he is the author of "Dancing for a mirage: notes on politics, economics and diplomacy in the governments of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner" (2017). He is also the author of several reports, including " The chairs of the Council: authoritarianism and democracies in the evolution of the integration of the UN Human Rights body" and "Memory closed: The complicity of the Cuban revolution with the Argentine military dictatorship".

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