Sir Rabinder Singh, "What is a 'democratic society'?"

Lecturer: The Right Honourable Lord Justice Singh (Court of Appeal of England and Wales)
Commentator: The Honourable Jacques Chamberland, Court of Appeal for Québec
Date and place: 6 September 2018, Faculty of Law, Université de Montréal


Both the Canadian Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and the European Convention on Human Rights refer to a “democratic society”. The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights has stressed that the hallmarks of a democratic society are pluralism, tolerance and broad-mindedness. In particular, this means that human rights law protects the views of minorities and individuals which may be unpopular, perhaps even give offence to the majority in society. The sort of democratic society which is envisaged by a human rights charter is not one which can be based simply on the notion of majority rule but rather is one which is based on the three fundamentals of liberty, equality and fraternity, the last of those perhaps now better expressed as community. A democratic society is not only one in which the people elect their government.  It is also one in which everyone enjoys fundamental human rights on an equal basis and in which those rights are enforceable by independent courts.

Published Version of the Lecture (Thémis)  


This content has been updated on June 12th, 2021 at 15 h 27 min.