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The sticking point: Human rights and civil -military relations in Latin America

Rebecca K Root, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This dissertation examines change in civil-military relations. Many countries of Latin America and indeed the world have struggled in recent years to hold their armed forces accountable for human rights violations they have committed in the past. In Latin America, there has been a gradual progression towards uncovering the truth about such crimes and ultimately prosecution of members of the military for them. After examining competing explanations for and discussing the pattern of that change in Argentina and Chile, Peru is offered as a recent addition to the list of countries attempting to assert this authority over the armed forces. While I find that the Peruvian case supports scholarship that argues that transnational activist networks should be credited with leading states to adopt and institutionalize the norm of human rights accountability over their armed forces, I also find that institutional, cultural and rationalist factors serve to limit the transformation of civil-military relations. Though transnational activist networks can often enjoy "moments" of powerful influence over policy-making, the return of the human rights accountability to the realm of "normal politics" and the weak institution of the judicial system present formidable obstacles to the consolidation of the rule of law.

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

Root, Rebecca K, "The sticking point: Human rights and civil -military relations in Latin America" (2007). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3254911.