The concept of popular participation is "the principal means by which individuals and peoples collectively determine their needs and priorities and ensure the protection and advancement of their rights and interests." In the context of political and civil rights, popular participation encourages involvement in the formation and conduct of political institutions on all levels, as proponents of the burgeoning "govemance" movement recognize. For example, participation enforces the rights of free speech, free assembly, and free press, as those who take part in political debates and discussion share information and beliefs. In addition, popular participation enforces economic, cultural, and social rights, as participation encourages people to have a voice in activities affecting their livelihood, enabling them to protect their interests. Indeed, in a broad sense, participation even transcends the traditional categorical lines between political and civil rights and economic, cultural, and social rights. The greater political participation individuals are afforded, the greater their ability to influence activities affecting the economic, social, and cultural aspects of their lives. Conversely, the process of empowering groups to participate in economic, social, and cultural arenas necessarily strengthens their political voices as well.
Celia R. Taylor, The Right of Participation in Development Projects, 13 Penn St. Int'l L. Rev. 69 (1994).