The human rights movement, citizen participation organizations, and the process of building civil society and rule of law in Argentina

The human rights movement, citizen participation organizations, and the process of building civil society and rule of law in Argentina

Civil society and law in Argentina

The paper challenges the 'adversarial' approach to democracy in the pluralist model, in which political preferences are negotiated between different factions in a 'win or lose' game that leaves no space for building social consensus. Instead, the author calls for a deliberative approach which identifies the political system with a non-adversarial process that tends to build-up consensus and where everyone loses something in order to achieve something collectively. The preferences are brought into the political arena and considered as expressions of collective values, rather than pre-political items that can be merelly exchanged, traded in a market place arena.

In the particular case of Argentina, the author argues that since human rights and civic participation organisations have been successful in achieving broad recognition and respect for human rights, it is now time for the more sophisticated and difficult step of building up a democratic society united by a sense of a public enterprise that involves all (public) citizens. For this end, the main issues to observe are:

  • Representation: numbers do not always equal legitimacy
  • Professionalism: it is possible and desirable to make the process more efficient while maintaining a strong attachment to the beliefs that motivated the movement in the first place
  • Victims, Institutions and Public Policies: there is a need to broaden the participation process beyond the families and relatives of victims to include young people and to work in the urgent challenges of consolidating the democratic institutions that are a precondition for the respect for human rights.
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