|Ambassador Maria, Ms Michelle (UN-Malaysia) & Denison|
By Ambassador Maria Isabel Rendon
Ambassador of Argentina to Malaysia
Thirty years after democracy was restored, Argentina is currently in the process of strengthening different aspects of its human rights policy, and this process is being attentively observed by the international and regional communities.
Social inclusion policies centred on respect for social and economic rights; the integration of migrants into national development from a human rights perspective (regardless of their migration status); recent groundbreaking laws approved in Congress, such as the Gender Identity, Decent Death, Equal Marriage and Mental Health Laws; and transcendental public policies for cultural change, such as the National Plan Against Discrimination (with more than 200 concrete steps to eradicate discriminatory rules and practices, already being implemented) are some of the concrete contributions of Argentina to international human rights law, in a world which is still debating many of these issues without yet reaching a consensus.
The foundation pillar for the construction of such a progressive human rights agenda in Argentina has been the eradication of impunity in relation to the crimes against humanity perpetrated in times of State terrorism. This process started through an internationally unprecedented step, acclaimed by the international community and the Human Rights Movement.
Over two decades after the recovery of democracy, hundreds of trials were re-opened all over the country in 2005. Since the opening of judicial proceedings, 1053 people have been prosecuted, 559 new cases have reached the oral stage, 430 people have been convicted of varying degrees of participation following oral and public proceedings and 45 people have been acquitted.
Within this context, many witnesses around the world have given their testimony before Argentine courts through video conferences held at Argentine consulates.
This significant shift after many years of impunity is the result of the maturity achieved by the Argentine people and its institutions, the painstaking work carried out by the human rights movement in its legitimate search for justice, and the political determination of former President Néstor Kirchner, whose efforts are continued by current Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
All of these factors made it possible for the three branches of government, for the first time since the restoration of democracy and in response to a new social contract, to remove all existing legal obstacles with a view to identifying and punishing those responsible for systematic and mass violations of human rights.
These actions were taken within the framework of ordinary proceedings, through the application of ordinary criminal law and international human rights law with constitutional status in Argentina and with full respect for the guarantees of due process.
This new stage in the fight against impunity has given Argentina renewed legitimacy and leadership at the international level, and has placed our country at the forefront of important initiatives on matters such as genocide prevention, education on and remembrance of the Holocaust as a way of preventing massive atrocities, the elaboration of rules and regulations on matters related to the enforced disappearance of persons, the right to the truth, and the use of forensic genetics in the field of human rights.
At the regional level, the Institute of Public Policy on Human Rights of MERCOSUR (IPPDH) started working in 2011, establishing an institutional framework for the exchange of good practices in this field at the regional level for the first time.
In March 2012, the Latin American Network for Genocide Prevention was launched in Buenos Aires, in association with the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), and in the presence of representatives from the whole region, as well as African observers from human rights institutions.
This network is one of a kind in the world, and it aims at creating a community of public officers who are sensitive to and informed about the issue. Its ultimate goal is to incorporate and develop, through training and regional cooperation, education on the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities as a priority on the Latin American regional agenda.
Moreover, and in connection with this issue, Argentina is working jointly with Switzerland and Tanzania to organize regional fora for the prevention of genocide. Fora were organized in Buenos Aires in 2008, Arusha (Tanzania) in 2010, Berne (Switzerland) in 2011, and Cambodia in 2013.
From mass violations to promoting human rights
Argentina has a tragic history of systematic and mass human rights violations, but today it is internationally recognized for its active role in the promotion of various human rights issues such as memory, truth, justice and reparation, as well as for making significant progress at the world level in connection with issues such as social inclusion, migration policies and the fight against discrimination.
All this progress has made it possible to design a State policy on human rights by building a bridge between the past and the future of Argentina, with a view to consolidating the creation of a fairer and more egalitarian society.--------------------------------
Source: Extract from the speech delivered by Ambassador Maria at a function on Dec 5, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur to commemorate 30 years of Democracy & Human Rights in Argentine