Democratic Rights, Human Dignity & Internet Propaganda in South-West Nigeria: Limitations in international law revealed by 2015 elections

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper


International law, by its very nature, enthrones the dominant cultural jurisprudence, selected from competing ‘others’ to oversee the relationship between states. Conversely, international human rights law (IHRL) engages in a quest for a singular acceptable and universal standard of governance and protection of ALL peoples. Combining self-seeking international law with an altruistic human rights framework has resulted in the dominance of a singular ‘other’s’ iteration of the requirements for human dignity, to the neglect of all alternative cultural jurisprudence. This presentation illustrates the limitation of this iteration through an examination of how the promotion of the ‘right’ to democracy infers that a peoples’ aspirations to human dignity are achieved through representative governance evidenced by political participation and regular elections. It demonstrates how the internet has led to the spread of (mis)information by examining the general background to the 2015 national electoral campaign, highlighting how two events which exemplify how achieving the right to democracy in SW Nigeria resulted in cyber-violence. This type of violence may potentially be more destructive to the stability of the nation-state than physical violence, due to its sustained and pervasive nature.
The 2015 elections in Nigeria witnessed the first ever democratic victory of an opposition party; this formed the background for shifts in the practice and policy of the right to democratic governance. More remarkable than the victory of the opposition is the fact that the internet campaigning of all parties in the run-up to the election brought to light indication of two limitations of international human rights protection on the international and local spheres.
The first limitation is the inability of IHRL to prevent or sometimes even identify human rights violations that occur solely within cyberspace. The second is the failure of IHRL to recognise any other than the accepted iteration of human dignity. Both these limitations are tangentially related, in that the former limitation is exacerbated and becomes more pronounced due to the latter.
At the core of IHRL is the concept of individual human dignity for all. However, many African philosophies’ ideologies on human dignity are centred on the core and cyclic concepts of ‘being’ and ‘belonging’. E.g. Umuntu ngumuntu nga bantu – ‘I am because others are’. Thus belonging is all-important, but belonging is naturally precedent on being. Failed (more accurately, developmentally-stagnated) states impelled to promote a ‘raw’ concept of rights have failed abysmally at this. The intervention of international law, ignores the African-dignity need for belonging, promotes human rights ‘raw’ i.e. with no diffusion between IHRL and cultural expression. Further, where there is a proliferation of competing internal ‘others’, ‘belonging’ is contaminated and thus ‘being’s’ cultural currency is devalued. The ensuing breakdown of community paves the way for disconnection between communities and between communities and the government, resulting in escalating hybrid conflict, human rights violations and infrastructural stagnation. The right to democracy is then implemented in a formulaic manner rather than substantively.
The 2015 election campaign witnessed concerted and direct attacks on the cultural ‘belonging’ need. While the election turned out to be much more peaceful than the 2011 election where there was large scale pre and post-election violence (attacks on the ‘being’ need), the 2015 election was conducted by attacking the need for ‘belonging’. Therefore, the scars that were opened by an election that was relatively peaceful, could have a more negative effect on the stability of the Nigeria than an election that was quite violent.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 26 Jun 2015
EventConference on Hybrid Warfare and Minority Rights Centre for International Law and Human Rights University of Lancaster - Lancaster University, Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 26 Jun 201526 Jun 2015


ConferenceConference on Hybrid Warfare and Minority Rights Centre for International Law and Human Rights University of Lancaster
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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