Human Rights Policy of the Organization of American States in Latin America: Philanthropic Endeavors or the Exploitation of an Ideal?

This book provides a historical analysis of the human rights policy of the Organization of American States (OAS) between 1970 and 1991. It offers new insights based on extensive research in archives and expert interviews in various countries. A description of the evolution of the inter-American system of human rights, especially the OAS human rights commission, is followed by an account of the human rights situation in the 1970s determined by military governments in the Southern Cone and of U.S. president Jimmy Carter’s vow to strengthen human rights. In the 1980s, the Central American civil wars and Ronald Reagan’s anti-communism affected the human rights debate within the OAS. The author concludes by discussing whether the human rights policy of the OAS was successful or not, and whether the human rights issue was used as a tool for political ends.

Klaas Dykmann (Institute of Comparative Overseas Studies, Hamburg) is a historian, political scientist, and human rights expert and the author of a forthcoming book on the European Union’s policies toward Latin America.