Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Democracy and International Law
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminar 11 x 2 Hour Seminars


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT OF 5,000-6,000 WORDS  80%
Semester Assessment ORAL PRESENTATION  20%
Supplementary Assessment WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT OF 5,000-6,000 WORDS TO BE SUBMITTED, IF FAILED  80%

Learning Outcomes

1. Discuss in general terms the development of democracy in international law
2. Identify these developments both in terms of doctrine and practice
3 Increased success in the module will result from the individual'r ability to critically analyse these developments.
4. Present critical and well-informed argument relating to the interpretation of relevant sources
5. Access the relevant literature and materials in this field and use them to engage in a critical discussion of the subject.
6. Identify and evaluate the relevance of historical and contemporary sources that are key to the development of democracy in international law

Brief description

The 1990s experienced the growth of democracy as a topic of international law. The end of the communist regime of the Soviet Union and the democratization of Eastern Europe was described by Fukuyama as the “international victory of democracy.” Recent political developments in the Middle East and North Africa have led to the belief that democracy is “the only route to ensure peace and prosperity in the region.” This so-called victory of democracy across the world has led to the belief that there now exists a right to democracy in international human rights law, as well as the existence of democracy as a principle of general international law. It is against this background that this module investigates and critically analyses the concept of democracy and its relationship with international law and human rights.


1. Democracy and its Theories: Before there can be claims concerning the victory, or even existence of democracy as part of international law there must be an examination of what democracy is or means, both in normative terms and institutional/procedural terms.
2. Democratic Institutions and Practices – Discussion of the Institutions and Practices that are necessary to achieve an effective democratic system
3. Membership/Recognition – The advancement of democracy as an international legal principle has been a major task for some international organisations. The approach of these organisations varies. The course covers those organisations that have legal, or quasi-legal requirement of democracy that is placed upon their members such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Organisation of American States. Since not all international organisations have democracy as a criteria for membership we will also examine how democracy is used in the process of recognition.
4 Human Rights and Democracy – There have been developments towards the belief that effective human rights protection can only be achieved in the context of a “democratic society”. The question then becomes – what does a democratic society look like or consist of? What role do human rights have in creating and maintaining this democratic society?
5. Good Governance and Development – The concept of good governance is significant for the development of an international law of democracy for it recognizes that political, socio- economic and cultural spheres of society are interrelated.
6 Democracy and the United Nations – The United Nations has played a key role in the promotion and protection of democracy in international law in the past decade. An examination of how it has contributed to this process will be made.
7. Election monitoring and involvement: Although elections alone are not indicative of the existence of democracy they do provide an indicator of democracy in practice if those elections are conducted on a free and fair basis and extend to all levels of society and governance. Election monitoring has been used as a means of confirming the democratic process is taking place.
8. Democracy and the Use of Force – International law has witnessed various levels of unilateral or loosely collective measures through public condemnations, economic sanctions and the threat and actual use of force in support of democracy. Can such use of force be justified for the purposes of international law?
8. Democracy and the practice of self determination – Both sides of self determination will be examined. Any act of self determination must involve the traditionally understood external dimension as well as internal factors to truly take account if the wishes and desires of a population in determining how society is to be ordered and governance carried out.
9. The Democratic Revolution in Waves Three and Four and their Impact in International Law – The third and fourth so-called waves of democratisation which respectively took place in the 1990s (end of Cold War and the democratisation of Eastern Europe) and 2010-11 (The Arab Spring) have had a profound influence on the position of democracy in the realm of international law.
10. A Right to Democracy in International Law? – Having looked at how the concept of democracy has developed in the past twenty years, are there grounds to support that a right to democracy has finally emerged in international law?

Transferable skills

Throughout the module, students will practise and develop their skills of research, analysis, time-management, oral and written presentation. In seminars they will develop their ability to listen, understand and explain subject related topics as well as present a point of view orally and discuss their thoughts with the rest of the class; their assignments will enable them to develop their skills of independent research, analysis, presentation and writing (including data collection and retrieval, IT and time management). All learning throughout the module will be relevant to a career in any legal profession.


This module is at CQFW Level 7