Deepening democracy: Participation under international human rights law
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This thesis examines the principle of participation, through which persons may have a direct role in decisions affecting them. This is said to be an integral principle of the international human rights framework, but thus far it is one that has not been developed in great detail or systematically enforced by human rights bodies. The thesis firstly identifies and analyses the right to participation as it is manifest in provisions of international labour conventions, international human rights instruments, and international environmental law, establishing the content of these provisions and the obligations imposed to enable participation. Secondly it demonstrates that international human rights supervisory bodies assert a principle of participation that applies beyond the context of these explicit provisions in hard law treaties, to the interpretation of international human rights law generally. The thesis argues that such a principle can be justified according to theoretical and pragmatic grounds. The first of these grounds is that the concept of individual autonomy that underpins human rights should be expressed collectively where policies to fulfil individual human rights are directed at groups of individuals. The second is that the right to self-determination of peoples should be interpreted to enable citizen participation in the development of the common will. The third is that participation is very important for the effective delivery and protection of rights. Finally, the thesis elaborates on the content of a principle of participation, proposing rules through which obligations may be built to enable participation. These rules are drawn from hard law and soft law instruments, fundamental human rights principles, the application of established and well-developed human rights in the context of participation, the recommendations of international human rights bodies and from democratic and legal theory.