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¿Paz sin Justicia? Argentina’s "Dirty War" and gross violations of human rights : does impunity conform to international human rights norms? Hustins, Nancy-Louise E.

Abstract

Inadequate laws and the impunity of those who are the perpetrators of gross violations of human rights in past authoritarian regimes fuel the struggle between accountability and social reconciliation in South America. Various incoming governments in Latin America have granted amnesty or impunity to the authors, under one or more previous governments, of gross violations of human rights, ostensibly in order to ensure a smooth transition of power from dictatorships to new democracies. The question of how to deal with past violators of human rights in a transitional justice context is important to international human rights law as it raises complex questions of international legal theory and practice. During the 1970s, Argentina witnessed state-sponsored terrorism on an unprecedented scale. Violations of human rights, such as abductions, torture and disappearance were rampant in everyday society. The military carried out these crimes in a culture of impunity. In this thesis, the author argues that the reign of impunity that existed and continues to exist after Argentina's "dirty war" is in violation of the state's domestic and international obligations. Successor regimes have an obligation in international law to investigate, prosecute, and punish the authors of gross violations of human rights. This duty is reflected in current trends in international law toward furthering accountability by a variety of mechanisms. The author argues that this duty has not been fulfilled by the Argentine government. The author provides a historical analysis of the 'dirty war' and gross violations of human rights that occurred in Argentina. The author presents a doctrinal argument supporting the emerging norm in international law that requires states to investigate, prosecute and provide redress for gross violations of human rights, drawing upon conventional treaty law and customary international law. Finally, the author considers recent events in Argentina reflective of diminishing impunity for crimes against humanity.

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