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Truth and Justice In Context: Human Rights, Authoritarian Legacies, and Democratization in the Southern Cone

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Title: Truth and Justice In Context: Human Rights, Authoritarian Legacies, and Democratization in the Southern Cone
Author: Vaccaro, Nicholas
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of Political Science
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 1998
Abstract: The subject of truth and justice during the process of transition from authoritarian to democratic regimes, and within the subsequent process of democratic consolidation, has been nearly ubiquitous in recent years. Attempts to deal with the the issues involved usually are attempts to order the various political and ethical priorities contained within the overall process. A prominent approach is found in The Third Wave by Samuel Huntington. Huntington treats truth and justice, or "the torturer problem" as a transitional problem. By this, he means that the factors which govern the process are largely dependent on the mode of transition, whether it is negotiated, controlled by the outgoing regime, or results from the collapse of the outgoing regime. He proceeds to make suggestions for appropriate policies in each case. While Huntington's characterization may apply at a basic level, a more detailed examination of individual cases of truth and justice suggests that the process is often governed not by the nature of transition, but by the nature of the authoritarian regime, and its interaction with long term political traditions. The cases of Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile demonstrate the existence of these connections and the ways in which they function. In the Uruguayan case the negotiated nature of the transition had a major impact on the outcome of the truth and justice process. However, transition had roots in major elements of democracy and negotiation elements within the historical political culture of Uruguay. This political culture also conditioned behavior by both politicians and civil society in the aspects of the truth and justice process conducted after the transition. In Argentina, the transition to democracy resulted from the collapse of the outgoing military regime. However, while this total loss of legitimacy allowed for more aggressive truth and justice policies to be pursued for a short while, Argentina's tradition of military independence and rebellion rapidly reasserted itself, resulting in the failure of most attempts at trial. In Chile, the authoritarian regime used the principle of law as a resource for partial legitimization, and the laws it passed and the overall concepts of the importance of legalism were of primary importance in both the transition and the process of truth and justice. This emphasis on law was connected to a strong Chilean political tradition as well. In general, the cases of the Southern Cone seem to indicate that truth and justice were fundamentally conditioned by legacies of the authoritarian regime, and long-standing political traditions, rather than by the mode of transition. This points to the existence of truth and justice policies as subsidiary processes in overall attempts at legitimization that vary in nature between contexts.
Subject: Human rights -- Southern Cone of South America
Subject: Democratization -- Southern Cone of South America
Subject: Authoritarianism -- Southern Cone of South America
Terms of Use: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/
Permanent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10066/7901

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Citation

Vaccaro, Nicholas. "Truth and Justice In Context: Human Rights, Authoritarian Legacies, and Democratization in the Southern Cone". 1998. Available electronically from http://hdl.handle.net/10066/7901.

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http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/ Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/us/

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