- MShikamano magazine
- Democracy in focus
- Themes & campaigns
In a democracy it is of paramount importance that its citizens are able to judge how well their government performs, also in regard to other relevant issues such as honesty and reliability. Governments must therefore, be made accountable to their electorate - not only at, but also before and after election time. Governmental accountability is a vital element of effective government. Accountability means that the entire government (including ministers and all state officials), are bound by law to uphold and maintain a policy of transparency toward the public and all forms of media, in regard to governmental conduct and performance. This facilitates the evaluation of government.
Organisations of people with a common purpose and having a formal structure.
Person who seeks temporary refuge in foreign state (see Geneva Convention).
An official group of persons who direct or supervise some activity.
Any valuable consideration given or promised with a view to corrupting the behaviour of a person.
A council advising a sovereign, president etc., the group of ministers or executives responsible for the government of a nation.
The presiding officer of a meeting, committee, board etc.
Natives or naturalised members of a state or nation who owe allegiance to its government and are entitled to its protection.
Evokes the premise that the different communities or ethnic groups that embody a society should exist in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and that all citizens, according to law, must enjoy genuine equal rights. The concept of citizenship should also invoke the notion of how refugees are treated, and what the possibilities are of them achieving citizenship.
An organised group of persons associated together for the purpose of social interaction.
The rights of the individual and minority groups within a state or country. This implies the rights of; religious freedom, freedom of speech, assembly, association, freedom of movement and the right to organise. Because civil rights guarantee equal rights for all, it is equally important to provide protection for those who exercise those civil rights.
Conflict amongst the citizens of a state or country, internal conflict.
Self constituted organisation with a specific purpose.
Inducement of a public official by improper means (bribery) to violate duty.
A body serving in an administrative capacity.
Members of a body who serve in an administrative capacity.
Country of origin
Homeland, where you come from.
It is the duty of the government to guarantee and ensure the overall well being of its citizens, ensuring the fair and equal distribution of resources, no matter where citizens live, within the borders of that state or country. Central government must also allow devolved institutions sufficient autonomy in the exercise of their powers and use of resources, in order to fulfil and meet the needs and aspirations of the people.
A forceful verbal attack; a piece of bitter criticism.
To make a distinction in favour or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class or category to which the person or thing belongs, rather than according to actual merit.
Division of powers in function
It is essential in a democracy that the three powers in function (legislative, executive and judicial), remain separate and independent of each other.
Invest legally or formally with power or authority, to authorise, license.
The choice by popular vote of members of a representative body.
Pertaining to race; peculiar to a race or nation; ethnological. Also, pertaining to or having common racial, cultural, religious, or linguistic characteristics, esp. designating a racial or other group within a larger system.
That branch of the government which is concerned or charged with carrying out the laws, decrees, and judicial sentences; opposed to ‘judicial’ and ‘legislative’.
Democratic countries are also influenced by external relationships, and are bound to act in accordance with the rules and norms that such relationships dictate e.g. the support of the UN human rights treaty. Governments must also respect and facilitate international law with regard to such elements as, the fair and equal treatment of refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers, whilst maintaining an open public debate or by holding referenda concerning external issues.
Free from Discrimination
Implies the concept that all people can be free from actual physical violation of their person, and also the fear of it. This also applies to freedom to practice ones religion, language or culture without fear of aggression or discrimination.
Freedom of assembly
The right to gather or hold meetings without interference or undue restrictions from the government.
Freedom of association
The right to combine, meet or gather together for a common purpose without interference from the government.
Freedom of expression/speech
The right of people to express their opinions publicly without governmental interference.
Freedom of movement
The right of individuals or groups of people to move freely, without hindrance, within or outside the borders of a country or state.
Freedom of religion
The right to practice one’s religion freely, openly and without fear of aggression or persecution.
Freedom of the press
The right to publish newspapers, magazines and other printed matter without governmental restrictions.
Freedom of the media
The right to originate and electronically or otherwise distribute data or information freely and openly without fear of governmental interference.
An international agreement, first made in Geneva, Switzerland in 1864 and followed by the US, UK and many other nations – establishes rules for the humane treatment of prisoners of war, the sick , the wounded and the dead in battle.
Those basic standards without which people cannot live in dignity, the basic rights of the individual. e.g. The UN human rights convention of 1948 evokes the idea that human rights are a common requirement for all and that they should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnic origin, religion or nationality.
To belong to, or be a part of a political system – this can be achieved by means of direct representation or through the efforts of the electorates’ own organisations or representatives. It is important in respect of this, to consider whether or not, such factors as; geographic location, education, financial circumstance or social/ethnic affiliations play a significant role in this process. It is also important to consider whether or not other practical and more relevant factors actually prevent the poor from organising themselves or taking part in the political process.
A person who migrates into a country as a settler.
Pertaining to judicature or to courts of law. One of the three powers in function. The adjucating members of the legal system of a country or state.
The authority that has the power to make and change laws within a state or country e.g. the parliament. One of the three powers in function.
A town, city, or district having local self-government; the community of such a town, etc.
The condition or fact of being smaller, inferior, or subordinate in relation to something else e.g. a minority group within a country can comprise of a lesser number of people who have a different religion from the majority of the population of that country.
Motion of no confidence
A parliamentary form of popular control, often given to the ruling party or government by opposing parties in a parliament, when there is a loss of confidence in, or extreme disagreement with the government. In extreme cases this can cause the fall of a government or the resignation of the responsible minister.
National origin or identity; (Law) the status of being a citizen or subject of a particular state; the legal relationship between a citizen and his or her state, usually involving obligations of support and protection; a particular national identity. This differs from citizenship which invokes the notion that citizenship invokes rights of participation.
Non-governmental organisation (NGO)
An organisation not belonging to or associated with a government, mainly financed through subscription and private donations - this financial independence helps to maintain their neutrality and prevents their subordination to central control. Examples of some high profile NGOs – ICRC, MSF.
A duty attaching to a person's station, position, or employment; a duty, service, or charge falling or assigned to one; a service or task to be performed; a person's business, function, or part.
An official appointed by parliament to investigate complaints against maladministration by central government and the civil service. This function secures the people’s access to an accountable and effective system of government. An ombudsman ensures the people’s access to a fair and comprehensive complaints system.
A state or country, in which power is held exclusively by one political party.e.g. North Korea.
Political parties help to simplify electoral choice by offering broad policy positions and programmes to choose from. They also clarify who should take responsibility in the event of policy failure. The simplification of electoral choice can eventually lead to the loss of pluralism in the political system, as significant voices are drowned out and new parties find it difficult to gain a foothold – thereby allowing them to be tempted to subordinate themselves to the special interests of wealthy donors.
The action of having or forming part of something. An essential part of democracy is that people participate in the working of democracy through either voluntary work, decentralisation of institutions, campaigning through all forms of media or in some other useful way.
Pillars of democracy
The facts or principles that are the main supports or tenets, that form the basis of democracy.
The enjoyment of privileges or immunities in regard to, voting, running for public office or political campaigning.
Affecting, concerning, or open to all or any of the people; pertaining to, or consisting of the common people, or the people as a whole as distinguished from any particular class; constituted or carried on by the people.
The condition of having little or no wealth or material possessions; indigence, destitution, want (in various degrees).
A person appointed by an organization to report on the proceedings of its meetings: the UN rapporteur.
The practice or principle of submitting a question at issue to the whole body of voters.
One who, owing to religious or ethnic persecution or political strife, seeks refuge in a foreign country.
A form of democracy in which politicians are popularly elected, through free and fair process. The elected politicians act as the people’s representatives by protecting and maintaining their rights and interests. Ideally, representative democracy should also ensure that the social and gender composition of the electorate are equally represented.
A legal, equitable, or moral title or claim to the possession of property or authority, the enjoyment of privileges or immunities, etc.(e.g. Civil rights)
Rule of law
A doctrine, deriving from theories of natural law, that in order to control the exercise of arbitrary power, the latter must be subordinated to impartial and well-defined principles of law. It should be the law and not the arbitrary will of the people, that decides whether or not a government should rule society- it also states that no man is above the law.
Rules and regulations
A rule prescribed for the management of some matter, or for the regulation of conduct; a governing precept of direction; a standing rule.
Governmentally decentralised areas e.g. village, county or district offices.
To carry on a trade in, to buy and sell; to dispose of (or acquire) in the way of trade; to deal in; often with sinister implication, to barter away. Often used in connection with the import, of prostitutes/children from other countries, who are then used in the slave and sex industries.
Frank, open, candid, ingenuous.
A settlement or arrangement arrived at by treating or negotiation; an agreement, covenant, compact, contract.
Intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.