An extensive search of the Political Science literature on Democracy shows that there are four main stages of Democratic Progression. Each stage has an implication for human rights.
The First Stage is called Authoritarianism. This is simply explained in terms of a system of government that favours or enforces strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom and human rights.
The exercise of Political Rights as well as Economic, Social and Cultural (ECOSOC) Rights, are either non-existent or not tolerated under Authoritarianism.
Regimes in Ghana, that exhibited authoritarian tendencies include the Nkrumah regime and the other military interventions that punctuated our efforts at democratization.
The Second Stage of Democratic Progression is called Transitional/Electoral Democracy. Countries under this democratic phase extol the virtues of Political Rights.
Here, the main focus is the conduct of periodic elections, regardless of whether they are free and fair. The rights to free speech, form or join a political a party of one’s choice are hesitantly guaranteed.
However ECOSOC rights are either non existent or completely under-developed.
These rights are therefore not asserted by the citizenry, and even when they are granted on a very infinitesimal scale, they are subserviently perceived by the citizenry as privileges, for which some ignorant people tend to be overly grateful to politicians.
The Third Stage is called Liberal Democracy. As Transitional Democracies grow for, say, over 200 years, ECOSOC rights become fully developed and are fully accessed as of rights by the citizenry.
In addition, the exercise of Political Rights is fully developed to the point that elections are seamless and they are by default, free, fair, peaceful and transparent. All other political rights are fully developed and guaranteed.
The Fourth Stage is called Advanced Liberal Democracy. At this stage, all the features of the Third Stage are fully consolidated.
In addition, citizens at this stage claim ownership and access to ALL and everything they can claim to be a right, sometimes beyond the imagination of normal human reasoning, (particularly among the citizenry of the First Three Stages of Democratic Stages).
It is at this stage of Democratic Progression that human beings can openly sleep with animals and insist they have the right to do so. It is at this Stage that LGBTs thrive and impose responsibility on the State to guarantee them as rights.
Professor Yaw Gyampo is an Associate Professor and holds a PhD in Political Science. He is also a Research Fellow at the Governance Unit of The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA-Ghana)