In the years following the attacks of 9/11, the CIA adopted a program involving the capture, extraordinary rendition, secret detention, and harsh interrogation of suspected terrorists in the war on terror. As the details of this program have become public, a heated debate has ensued, focusing narrowly on whether or not this program “worked” by disrupting terror plots and saving American lives. By embracing such a narrow view of the program’s efficacy, this debate has failed to take into account the broader consequences of the CIA program. We move beyond current debates by evaluating the impact of the CIA program on the human rights practices of other states. We show that collaboration in the CIA program is associated with a worsening in the human rights practices of authoritarian countries. This finding illustrates how states learn from and influence one another through covert security cooperation and the importance of democratic institutions in mitigating the adverse consequences of the CIA program. This finding also underscores why a broad perspective is critical when assessing the consequences of counterterrorism policies.
This paper examines the role of mixed and multi-level methods datasets used to inform evaluations of transitional justice mechanisms. The Colombia reparation program for victims of war is used to illustrate how a convergent design involving multiple datasets can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a complex transitional justice mechanism. This was achieved through a unique combination of (1) macro-level analysis enabled by a global dataset of transitional justice mechanisms, in this case the reparations data gathered by the Transitional Justice Research Collaborative, (2) meso-level data gathered at the organizational level on the Unidad para las Victimas (Victims Unit), the organization in charge of implementing the reparations program and overseeing the domestic database of victims registered in the reparations program, and (3) micro-level population- based perception datasets on the Colombian reparations program collected in the Peacebuilding Data database. The methods used to define measures, access existing data, and assemble new datasets are discussed, as are some of the challenges faced by the inter-disciplinary team. The results illustrate how the use of global, domestic, and micro- level datasets together yields high quality data, with multiple perspectives permitting the use of innovative evaluation methods and the development of important findings and recommendations for transitional justice mechanisms.
The authors comment to an article by David Richards about their paper "Information Effects and Human Rights Data". They discuss the argument by Richards on how word counts are related to coding, the use of Latin American cases as illustrations of how coding responds to the changes in human rights conditions, and the global averages of Cingranelli-Richards data presented by Richards.
Latin American governments, social movements, and regional organisations have made a far bigger contribution to the idea and practice of international human rights than has previously been recognised. Most discussions of the global human rights regime stress its origins in the countries of the Global North. This article explores the role of Latin America states as early protagonists of the international protection of human rights, focusing in particular on the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, adopted 8 months before passage of the Universal Declaration. In light of this, Sikkink calls into question the idea that human rights originated only in the Global North.
Latin American governments, social movements, and regional organizations have made a far greater contribution to the idea and practice of international human rights than has previously been recognized. Most discussions of the global human rights regime stress its origins in the countries of the Global North. This article explores the role of Latin America states as early protagonists of the international protection of human rights, focusing in particular on the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. Histories of human rights in the world emphasize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, as the founding moment of international human rights. Few know that Latin American states passed a similar American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man a full eight months before passage of the UDHR. The American Declaration thus was the first broad enumeration of rights adopted by an intergovernmental organization. This article explores the American Declaration as an example of often overlooked Latin American human rights protagonism that has continued to this day, and that calls into question the idea that human rights originated in only the Global North.
Changes in quality and availability of information related to human rights violations raise questions about how best to use existing data to assess human rights change. Information effects are discernible both in primary sources of information and data coded by two prominent human rights datasets, the Political Terror Scale (PTS) and the Cingranelli-Richards Human Rights Data Set (CIRI). The authors discuss ways that human rights information has changed for the better, evaluate the scales and their primary text sources for countries in Latin America, and compare them with information drawn from regional truth commission data. Extra caution is advised when using summary data to make inferences about human rights change.
The justice cascade refers to a new global trend of holding political leaders criminally accountable for past human rights violations through domestic and international prosecutions. In just three decades, state leaders have gone from being immune to accountability for their human rights violations to becoming the subjects of highly publicized trials in many countries of the world. New research suggests that such trials continue to expand and often result in convictions, including some of high-level state officials. This article summarizes research on the origins of the justice cascade and its effects on human rights practices around the world. It presents evidence that such prosecutions are affecting the behavior of political leaders worldwide and have the potential to help diminish human rights violations in the future.
Since the 1980s, there has been a significant rise in domestic and international efforts to enforce individual criminal accountability for human rights violations through trials, but we still lack complete explanations for the emergence of this trend and the variation observed in the use of human rights prosecutions in the world. In this article, we examine the role that procedural law has had in allowing societal actors to influence in this rising trend for individual criminal accountability. We do this by focusing on participation rights granted to victims, such as private prosecution in criminal cases. Based on an exploration of an original database on human rights prosecutions in Latin America and fieldwork research in three countries, we argue that private prosecution is the key causal mechanism that allows societal actors to fight in domestic courts for individual criminal accountability for human rights violations.
Los procedimientos penales diseñados para enfrentar las violaciones a los derechos humanos fueron una de las innovaciones políticas más importantes de finales del siglo XX. La principal justificación para estos procesos ha sido indicar que el castigo es una medida necesaria para prevenir futuras violaciones. No obstante, hasta ahora no existían suficientes datos que permitieran comprobar esta tesis. En este artículo presento resumidamente las conclusiones de la investigación que condujimos con Hunjoon Kim. En dicha investigación analizamos un conjunto de datos sobre las causas de derechos humanos en los países en transición a la democracia, para explorar si dichos juicios tuvieron la capacidad de prevenir futuras represiones. Establecimos que los juicios por violaciones a los derechos humanos realizados
después de iniciadas las transiciones a la democracia condujeron a mejoras en la protección de los derechos humanos, y que los procesos realizados en países vecinos tienen un efecto disuasivo que se extiende más allá de los confines de un único país. Igualmente, exploramos los mecanismos a través de los cuales los juicios condujeron a un avance en los derechos humanos.
Sostenemos que el impacto de los juicios es el resultado de presiones normativas y castigos materiales. Fundamentamos esta hipótesis comparando los efectos que generan los procesos judiciales y las comisiones de verdad. Debido a que las comisiones de verdad, que no contemplan el castigo, también tienen un efecto positivo en las prácticas de derechos humanos, sugerimos que la justicia transicional también puede tener repercusiones a través de sus efectos simbólicos o comunicativos.
Human rights prosecutions have been the major policy innovation of the late twentieth century designed to address human rights violations. The main justification for such prosecutions is that sanctions are necessary to deter future violations. In this article, we use our new data set on domestic and international human rights prosecutions in 100 transitional countries to explore whether prosecuting human rights violations can decrease repression. We find that human rights prosecutions after transition lead to improvements in human rights protection, and that human rights prosecutions have a deterrence impact beyond the confines of the single country. We also explore the mechanisms through which prosecutions lead to improvements in human rights. We argue that impact of prosecutions is the result of both normative pressures and material punishment and provide support for this argument with a comparison of the impact of prosecutions and truth commissions, which do not involve material punishment.
Democratizing states began in the 1980s to hold individuals, including past heads of state, accountable for human rights violations. The 1984 Argentine truth commission report (Nunca Más) and the 1985 trials of the juntas helped to initiate this trend. Argentina also developed other justice-seeking mechanisms, including the first groups of mothers and grandmothers of the disappeared, the first human rights forensic anthropology team, and the first truth trials. Argentines helped to define the very term forced disappearance and to develop regional and international instruments to end the practice. Argentina thus illustrates the potential for global human rights protagonism and diffusion of ideas from a country outside the wealthy North. This article surveys Argentina's innovations and proposes possible explanations, drawing on theoretical studies from transitional justice, social movements, and norms cascades in international relations.
Since the 1980s, states have been increasingly addressing past human rights violations using multiple transitional justice mechanisms including domestic and international human rights trials. In the mid-1980s, scholars of transitions to democracy generally concluded that trials for past human rights violations were politically untenable and likely to undermine new democracies. More recently, some international relations experts have echoed the pessimistic claims of the early 'trial skeptics' and added new concerns about the impact of trials. Yet, relatively little multicountry empirical work has been done to test such claims, in part because no database on trials was available. The authors have created a new dataset of two main transitional justice mechanisms: truth commissions and trials for past human rights violations. With the new data, they document the emergence and dramatic growth of the use of truth commissions and domestic, foreign, and international human rights trials in the world. The authors then explore the impact that human rights trials have on human rights, conflict, democracy, and rule of law in Latin America. Their analysis suggests that the pessimistic claims of skeptics that human rights trials threaten democracy, increase human rights violations, and exacerbate conflict are not supported by empirical evidence from Latin America.
Why we cannot truly implement human rights unless we also recognize human responsibilities
When we debate questions in international law, politics, and justice, we often use the language of rights—and far less often the language of responsibilities. Human rights scholars and activists talk about state responsibility for rights, but they do not articulate clear norms about other actors’ obligations. In this book, Kathryn Sikkink argues that we cannot truly implement human rights unless we also recognize and practice the corresponding human responsibilities.
Focusing on five areas—climate change, voting, digital privacy, freedom of speech, and sexual assault—where on-the-ground (primarily university campus) initiatives have persuaded people to embrace a close relationship between rights and responsibilities, Sikkink argues for the importance of responsibilities to any comprehensive understanding of political ethics and human rights.