Bullets vs Ballots


New at Reason: How does the majority of the world keep Libya from running the United Nations' Human Rights Commission? Jonathan Rauch looks at the newly forming "democracy caucus" in Geneva.

NEXT: The Many Lives of Michael Jacobson

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  1. Does a list exist of these democracies? Does it include Russia?

  2. I think Jean Bart makes an important point. How are we going to decide who’s a true democracy and who just holds pro forma elections without a free press or true competition?

    To get true international institutions off the ground we need some sort of organic linkage that could only arise between true democracies. Some type of standard that couldn’t be easily politically faked. Perhaps something like transnational property rights would work.

  3. Note: The following is my own opinion, and I do not speak for any organization. That said, I work for Freedom House, the organization that spearheaded the movement to finally get this thing off the ground, so I have somewhat of an inside scoop.

    The deal is this: The Community of Democracies is a pre-existing group of Foreign Ministers of democratic nations that meets every few years to discuss human rights/democracy/saving the world. Its membership was decided by the membership, and is fixed (for now). What we did when trying to hash out who should be a member of the Democracy Caucus, we decided that rather than wrangle with coming up with a new set of criteria, we would simply take the membership of the COD and invite those nations’ UN Reps to participate. It means that there are a few not-so-democratic democracies on the list, but it also means that we didn’t have to have a years long battle over who should get to join and we could instead get to the business of actually forming the thing.

    A list of the COD member nations can be found at the Seoul Conference website.

  4. Wow, a 99% positive Reason article! Someone take a screenshot… Theoretical problems aside, this is the first thing to give me hope in the UN in years.

  5. Holy Guests!

    If you follow the link that Amy provided you will find that the Holy See, THE HISTORICAL BEACON AND BASTION OF DEMOCRACY, was a “Guest” at the “Democracy: Investing for Peace and Prosperity” Seoul Conference…

    Irony? Any One?


  6. T&Atheism,

    The Catholic Church has been and remains one of the most illiberal institutions of human creation. Indeed, its anti-liberty stances on procreative choice is a primary example of this; that, and its rampant attacks on capitalism.

  7. Not that this has anything to do with anything, but what went wrong with the map in that link??

    The coastlines range from really, really detailed (Canada, Japan), to the borderline obscene (Kamchatka, SE Asia). Also, Canada is the only place in the world with lakes.

    Again, it’s not important or anything, I’d just like to know what they were smoking when they made that.

  8. Jean Bart,

    Kiss my Parkinson’s-infected ass.

  9. JP2,

    Kiss my Gonorrhea-infested ass.

  10. Back in the 80’s, when Gary Hart touted the idea in his book, Reason panned it.

  11. I see that Russia is indeed a member of the “Community of Democracies,” despite their quasi-democracy.

    I do think that the United Nations is a horrible organization and would better be replaced by something like the Community of Democracies. But consider some other possibilities:
    1) It should be eliminated and not replaced by anything. I think Darwinian competition among governments will produce a better outcome for the human race than one government, good or bad (I see the UN as tending to replace national governemnts over time).
    2) A UN where votes were allocated based on GDP. Governments which destroy prosperity won’t be able to have much impact.
    3) A Community of Capitalist Nations. Those rated “mostly free” or better by the Index of Economic Freedom (http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/countries.html) would be eligible to join. Most of the world’s GDP is represented by those countries. Some of the major nations that wouldn’t make the list include Russia, China, and India.

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