Po­lit­i­cal Con­cep­tions of Jus­tice:

build­ing in­sti­tu­tions and prin­ci­ples of mod­ern com­mu­nity in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Saadula Aqrawi

A uniquely suc­cess­ful democ­racy in the Mid­dle East with a suc­cess­ful open for­eign pol­icy and Eco­nomic Power, the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion has be­come a par­a­digm for democ­racy in the re­gion as well as an in­ter­na­tional trade center in new vir­gin ter­ri­to­ries.

So­ci­ety of­ten pro­duces un­just out­comes, and demo­cratic jus­tice also re­quires the se­cur­ing the ba­sics for all in­di­vid­u­als, in­clud­ing an ad­e­quate ed­u­ca­tion, de­cent health care, hous­ing, in­come sup­port or work that pays, and some demo­cratic say in the work­place. If democ­racy is to be om­nipresent but not om­nipo­tent, then demo­cratic jus­tice would guide us to­wards the re­form of our po­lit­i­cal pro­cesses in ways that would help make Kur­dish pol­i­tics both more demo­cratic and more likely to yield jus­ti­fi­able out­comes. The pub­lic fi­nanc­ing of elec­toral cam­paigns, for ex­am­ple, may be one of many po­ten­tial ways of im­prov­ing both the process of pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity and the sub­stance of po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions.

Since an Athe­nian jury sen­tenced Socrates to death for the crimes of heresy and cor­rupt­ing young minds, democ­racy and jus­tice has been a sub­ject of great con­tro­versy. The po­lit­i­cal con­cept is pre­sented as a free­stand­ing view, not as a com­pre­hen­sive doc­trine or as some­thing de­rived from a com­pre­hen­sive doc­trine and ap­plied to the ba­sic struc­ture of so­ci­ety. This does not mean that it can­not be jus­ti­fied from within a com­pre­hen­sive doc­trine; in­deed, it has no chance of suc­cess un­less a num­ber of com­pre­hen­sive doc­trines sup­port it. What it means is that there ex­ists a net­work of con­cepts in pub­lic po­lit­i­cal cul­ture from which the po­lit­i­cal con­cep­tion can be ex­plained and jus­ti­fied. It is ex­pounded apart from any wider back­ground made up of com­pre­hen­sive doc­trines.

Demo­cratic jus­tice in the Kur­dis­tan re­gion re­quires mech­a­nisms of col­lec­tive self-gov­er­nance to be as in­clu­sive as pos­si­ble, and lim­ited only when nec­es­sary. This is a se­ri­ous limit to demo­cratic jus­tice in our world, which more rep­re­sen­ta­tive in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions can­not fully over­come. There may be no bet­ter al­ter­na­tive to rec­om­mend than that demo­cratic cit­i­zens think morally about their com­mit­ment to all in­di­vid­u­als, not only to their fel­low cit­i­zens. The life cy­cle of cit­i­zens there­fore over­looks the prob­lem of rec­on­cil­ing demo­cratic jus­tice in demo­cratic coun­tries with a for­eign pol­icy that af­fects non-cit­i­zens at least as much as it af­fects cit­i­zens.

In the Third World and the Mid­dle East, as well as in Iraq and the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion, be­cause power tends to cor­rupt and ab­so­lute power cor­rupts ab­so­lutely, pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity may be the most im­por­tant fea­ture of democ­racy. When ac­count­abil­ity is ab­sent, so is democ­racy. But ac­count­abil­ity, even when it works rea­son­ably well, does not guar­an­tee jus­tice for two rea­sons that tell us a lot about why the union of democ­racy and jus­tice will al­ways have its lim­i­ta­tions: Firstly, be­cause even the best demo­cratic pro­ce­dures will some­times yield un­just out­comes; se­condly, be­cause even good-willed and well-in­formed peo­ple rea­son­ably dis­agree about whether some out­comes are just. To rec­om­mend im­pos­ing out­comes from above is not a so­lu­tion but part of the prob­lem of po­lit­i­cal tyranny to which democ­racy is a re­sponse. Democ­racy and jus­tice may be joined only through pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity, and then only im­per­fectly.

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