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ABSTRACT

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.