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The Inter-American Human Rights System Fifty Years Later: Time for changes

About this product. Stock photo. Brand new: lowest price The lowest-priced brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item in its original packaging where packaging is applicable. See details. Buy It Now. Add to cart. Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information This book examines the complex role of human rights norms and standards throughout the region, illustrating the evolution and impact of international conventions, laws, and institutions.


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The chapters combine historical detail with a focus on present-day challenges for regional and domestic human rights regimes, highlighting particular obstacles, successful approaches, and strategies. Through case studies in North, Central, and South America, the volume provides a rich account of the evolving regional environment for rights protection and promotion. This volume fills a crucial gap in the literature, allowing us to assess the complex and fascinating human rights ebb and flow that has been the experience of Latin America, including the often contradictory role of the United States as champion and obstacle.

Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law, Princeton University "A very authoritative overview written by some of the real experts on the subject. Schabas, director, Irish Centre for Human Rights. Additional Product Features Dewey Edition. After more than three decades of the third wave of democratization, virtually all countries in the region are democracies.

In this context, the authors ask themselves: does socialization under a democratic regime have an impact on citizens' attitudes? To answer this question, the authors compared the democratic attitudes of two different cohorts: a 'democratic cohort', composed of individuals who spent their formative years from 14 to 22 years living under democratic regimes, and a second cohort of those socialized under authoritarian regimes.

Across the region as a whole, the results indicate that the democratic cohort supports more democracy. However, when the analysis is done separately for each country, there is considerable variation, with several countries bucking the overall trend. Furthermore, Moreno and Lagos' results show that the cohorts that were socialized during earlier democratic periods the 'older democratic cohort' express greater support for democracy than those which have been socialized during the most recent democratic period the 'younger democratic cohort'. One possible explanation for this is that the "older generations experienced periods of authoritarianism and are thus able to compare the inefficiencies of democracy with the horrors of a military regime.

This 'aversion' argument suggests that greater support among older cohorts is due to the vivid, negative memories these generations have of authoritarianism, in contrast to younger cohorts who have never seen their civil and political rights threatened. Older generations, who directly experienced acts of repression by military regimes, acquired an aversion to such regimes and, consequently, an appreciation for democracy. For younger cohorts, socialized under democracy, threats to civil and political rights are little more than historical record, which they have neither experienced personally nor witnessed.

One lesson we can take from the studies already discussed, is that context exerts an important influence in shaping the attitudes of different generations.


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  6. As we have seen, a plausible explanation for the greater support for democracy found among the older cohorts is precisely the fact that they experienced the privations of the previous regime. This can be understood as a 'democratic legacy', as has traditionally been the case in the literature, or, as we shall propose here, as an 'authoritarian legacy'. We highlight two essential characteristics that constitute a 'legacy': first, the duration of a given regime, i. Different political legacies, of course, produce different contexts in which citizens are socialized. For this reason, we believe that the generational effect is mediated by political legacy.

    Our hypothesis is a natural extension of Moreno and Lagos' line of analysis: if the experience of having lived under a regime that curtailed civil and political rights makes an individual more likely to support democracy, then the intensity of such support is likely to be associated with how long and to what extent those rights were denied. Therefore, we expect the gap between generations to be more pronounced in contexts with a greater authoritarian legacy. In addition to this hypothesis, we tested the direct effects of the democratic legacy and, especially, the authoritarian legacy.

    The concept of the democratic legacy is already well established in the literature. This suggests that democratic institutions, once implemented, produce environments that socialize citizens within the norms of the democratic system. Less obvious, however, is the effect of authoritarian legacy.


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    Following the same line of reasoning, we might expect it to have the inverse effect of the democratic legacy. In this case, the greater the authoritarian legacy of a country, the less adherence we would expect to see to recently implanted democratic regimes. In most countries, the sample consists of 1, interviews with respondents selected using probabilistic selection stratified across multiple stages.

    Canada, the United States, Belize, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica were excluded from the analysis, as they were not considered to belong to the region. Bolivia and Venezuela were also excluded, because for these countries data was not available for some of the variables we included in our model. The first empirical challenge for the study was to construct a variable that would delineate different generations.

    Using this definition, it should be possible to define different 'generations' by reference to the key events they have experienced. In our study, the event in question is a wide-ranging and drawn-out phenomenon: a transition in the political regime. As such, we compare two generational groups: one that socialized exclusively in a democratic political environment, and one that experienced two regimes, democratic and authoritarian. It is true that many countries have had more than one political transition in recent history, and that processes of transition are varied and complex.

    However, we believe that our classification captures what we consider to be of greater importance in the current study, namely the experience of having, at some point over the life course, lived under an authoritarian regime. From an operational point of view, the first step is to identify the 'cut-off point' that initiates the formative stage at which individuals are most susceptible to political learning.

    Jennings and Niemi , for example, estimate that between the ages of 16 and 17 individuals are more open to political learning. For Sears , this formation begins a little earlier, at 14 to 16 years of age. Mattes, Denemark and Niemi believe there is no 'magic number' that resolves this issue, but note that most studies point, on average, to 14 as a key age.

    Taking into account the range of ages identified in the literature and the need to establish a specific age, we chose the intermediate point of 15 as our cut-off for when political socialization begins.

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    Having established the point at which political socialization begins, the next step was to define the year of redemocratization for each Latin American country. Once we had done this, we calculated which individuals were aged 14 or younger in the year their country redemocratized, meaning that they were fully socialized under the democratic regime; and which individuals were 15 or older and who therefore had some experience of the authoritarian regime during their formative years. It is, therefore, a binary variable distinguishing between two generational groups: one that was socialized only under the democratic regime and one that had experience of both the democratic and the authoritarian regimes.

    Table 01 shows these years for each of the countries included in the study. The table also shows, for each country, the age that today demarcates the generation that was only socialized under the democratic regime from that which also experienced the authoritarian regime. So, for example, in Brazil, redemocratization occurred in In , when the Americas Barometer was conducted, individuals aged 42 or more were those who were at least 15 in , meaning that they spent at least part of their formative stage under the authoritarian regime.

    Individuals aged 41 in were 14 in , and thus belong to the generation socialized exclusively under democracy.

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    Two other concepts we use in our analysis are 'democratic legacy' and 'authoritarian legacy', as discussed in the previous section. The authors classified 19 Latin American countries, over the period from to , into three types: authoritarian, semi-democratic and democratic. The authoritarian regimes received the score zero 0 , semi-democratic regimes a half point 0. The measure of a country's democratic legacy is therefore the sum of this score for the whole period — As such, the democratic legacy of a country will be greater when democracy has functioned for longer, and when it has worked better.

    The political legacy, however, is not restricted to the democratic legacy. Equally important for explaining individual attitudes, especially in relation to generational differences, is the authoritarian legacy. The authoritarian legacy, in turn, has received little attention. We believe, however, that it is relevant for precisely the same reasons: experiences of authoritarianism may create contexts that either favor or inhibit attitudes of support for democracy. These experiences also depend on their duration and nature, which, in the case of authoritarian experiences, are linked to the intensity with which civil and political rights are restricted.

    However, this classification does not distinguish between more and less repressive authoritarian regimes. Under this measure, the closer the regime scored to , the more autocratic it was considered to be. In order to measure 'support for democracy', our dependent variable, we use a traditional question from the literature: "Now, moving on, with which of the following three sentences do you tend to agree with: For people like me, 1 There is no difference between a democratic or an undemocratic regime, or 2 Democracy is preferable to any other form of government, or 3 In some circumstances, an authoritarian government might be preferable to a democratic one".

    Table 02 shows the level of support for democracy among Latin Americans, presented as percentages. Columns one and two show the percentages for the generation that lived under the military regime and for the generation that has only lived under democracy, respectively, while column three shows the difference between the two generations. We also performed a chi-square test to verify whether these differences were statistically significant.

    We note that in almost all countries, the group that experienced the authoritarian regime expresses greater support for democracy than that which was socialized exclusively under the democratic regime. In only three countries is this trend reversed, and of these exceptions only the case of Panama is statistically significant. Already, this result suggests that older generations that were socialized under the authoritarian regime are more likely to support the democratic regime. However, surely other variables also help to explain support for democracy.

    It is therefore necessary to construct a multivariate explanatory model. The literature highlights the importance of socioeconomic variables in accounting for individual attitudes towards democracy. In addition to socioeconomic factors, other individual-level characteristics have also been highlighted. Interest in politics has, alongside education, been identified as one of the best predictors of an individual's political behavior, including democratic attitudes DALTON, , Finally, we add the individual's assessment of the country's economic situation.

    Studies have shown that adherence to democracy has 'instrumental' as well as 'intrinsic' motivations. As the democratic legacy and the authoritarian legacy are contextual variables, we estimate multilevel logistic models for the 17 Latin American countries. Our level 01 and 02 model assumes the following form:. In model 02, we include the interaction between generation and authoritarian legacy, and, in model 03, the interaction between generation and democratic legacy.

    Using this multilevel model, we were able to verify that the generational variable has positive and significant effect in both cases.

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    At least in the context of Latin America, the decades of relative democratic stability experienced in most countries have not served to level out the attitudes of cohorts socialized at different times. Most interesting, however, is the direction of this effect: it is the oldest cohort, which experienced life under the authoritarian regime, that most supports democracy.

    Hierarchical logistical regression model. Odds ratio coefficients. Control variables generally performed as expected: On the interaction between generation and authoritarian legacy, we can return to our hypothesis, based on the 'aversion argument'. We found no statistical significance in this relationship. We cannot, therefore, affirm that the generational effect on support for democracy is conditioned by the authoritarian legacy.

    In other words, we found no evidence to support the claim that where authoritarian regimes were more oppressive and longer-lasting there is a greater difference in support for democracy between older and younger generations. In fact, the authoritarian legacy has a negative effect on support for democracy 2.

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    Each additional unit in the authoritarian legacy reduces support for democracy by 0. The democratic legacy, by contrast, has a positive effect: each additional unit increases likelihood of support by 0. Our findings shed light on the generational question in Latin America from a perspective that is different, but complementary, to Moreno and Lagos' The comparison between the generation that has only experienced democracy and those that were also socialized under authoritarian regimes shows that the latter do indeed express a greater commitment to democracy.

    This result fits with the contrast that Moreno and Lagos found between older and younger 'democratic cohorts'. What is curious, however, is that a greater authoritarian legacy does not increase the gap between generations. The crucial factor, then, is whether a generation has some experience of an authoritarian regime, regardless of how severe and repressive it was. We also found evidence that general context matters: a greater democratic legacy promotes support for democracy, while a greater authoritarian legacy discourages such support.

    Taken together, the data reveal the explanatory power of political legacies. Countries that combine democratic longevity and quality constitute an environment in which political socialization favors the formation of attitudes in support of the regime. In the case of authoritarian legacy, the phenomenon becomes more complex. If, on the one hand, direct individual experience with an authoritarian regime fosters support for democracy, on the other, the impact of the authoritarian tradition on society as a whole tends to push in the opposite direction, constituting itself as a barrier to the formation of democratic attitudes.

    Most studies of democratic legitimacy ignore the generational dimension, merely using the 'age' variable as a demographic control in statistical models. By contrast, our study sought to emphasize the key role of generation in the formation of political attitudes, especially in new democracies. With this aim, we analyzed the generational effect on support for democracy in Latin America, comparing citizens who have only lived under democratic regimes with those who also experienced authoritarian regimes.

    First, we find that,, it was possible to examine generational differences across the region and whether, to some extent, they were influenced by the countries' varied political legacies. As Moreno and Lagos already pointed out, generations that have lived under authoritarian regimes tend to support democracy more than those that have only lived under democracy. The explanation for this difference is the vivid memory the older generations still have of living under repressive authoritarian regimes. We expected that, in line with this result, the level of support among those who lived under authoritarian regimes would grow according to the intensity of the authoritarian legacy.

    However, empirical tests do not corroborate such an association. By themselves, political legacies do have a broader effect on society, increasing, in the case of the democratic legacy, and diminishing, in the case of authoritarian legacy, the likelihood of support for democracy. One important implication of these findings is that, in Latin America, generational replacement is not likely to lead to an increase in support for democratic regimes. In any case, the question of democratic legitimacy is more complex and deserves further investigation. This will allow a better understanding of generational differences in support for core democratic principles, such as tolerance, participation, constraints on power and the rule of law.

    A second implication of our findings is that political legacies matter. Countries with weaker democratic legacies or stronger authoritarian ones will find it more difficult to generate a 'reserve of legitimacy' DAHL, This is not to say that these democracies are doomed to fail, but rather that, because of the long-term nature of the political legacy, the survival of democratic regimes are likely to depend more on institutional and economic factors. One of the limits of the present study relates to the way authoritarian legacy has been measured.

    In order to move forward, we intend to elaborate more refined measures that take other dimensions into account, such as the level of human rights violations, number of people killed and disappeared, and the level of protest tolerated under the authoritarian regime. This will allow a more adequate comparison between different modalities of authoritarianism and their impacts on the political culture. In addition, our hypotheses should be tested with a larger and more heterogeneous sample of countries, and in other regional contexts.

    Another important point is that our study considered only two generational groups: that which was fully socialized under the democratic regime, and that which lived under both democratic and authoritarian regimes. We believe that future studies can deepen analysis of both generations, taking into account the nuances that mark the political history of different countries in Latin America, many of which have undergone more than one authoritarian experience and process of democratization.

    Similarly, different countries underwent different processes of political transition, some of these brief, but many of them drawn-out. As such, in addition to the experiences that individuals may have had with authoritarian and democratic regimes, there is a third context of socialization: in the transition process, itself.

    Furthermore, it is important to remember that in some countries recent events have raised questions regarding the democratic nature of their current political regimes, such as Peru, Honduras and Venezuela. It is thus also important to examine the possible implications of these experiences for democratic legitimacy.