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The role of human rights in the UK democratic process


The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has said that “democracy, human rights and the rule of law are interdependent and mutually reinforce each other. Weakening one endangers the others”. The United Nations has also said that “democracy provides an environment for the protection and effective realisation of human rights”. In 2002, the UN Commission on Human Rights (since replaced by the Human Rights Council) declared the following as essential elements of democracy: 

  • Respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms 
  • Freedom of association 
  • Freedom of expression  
  • Access to power and its exercise in accordance with the rule of law 
  • The holding of periodic free and fair elections by universal suffrage and by secret ballot as the expression of the will of the people 
  • A pluralistic system of political parties and organisations 
  • The separation of powers 
  • The independence of the judiciary 
  • Transparency and accountability in public administration 
  • Free, independent and pluralistic media. 

In 2024, over 50 countries and the European Union will hold elections. This will make 2024 the biggest election year in global history. This includes the UK, which will hold local elections on 2 May 2024. The UK is also due to hold a general election on or before 28 January 2025.  

In the run up to the general election, the JCHR seeks to assess the relationship between human rights and democracy in the UK.

This inquiry is no longer accepting evidence

The deadline for submissions was Friday 24 May 2024.

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  • Email:
  • Phone: 0207 219 2793 (general enquiries) | 020 7219 8430 (media enquiries)
  • Address: Joint Committee on Human Rights, Houses of Parliament. London. SW1A 0AA