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Human Rights and the Pink Tide in Latin America: Which Rights Matter?

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JournalDevelopment and change
DateAccepted/In press - 29 Aug 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 18 May 2018
DatePublished (current) - 2 May 2019
Issue number3
Number of pages28
Pages (from-to)707-734
Early online date18/05/18
Original languageEnglish


Latin America witnessed the election of ‘new Left’ governments in the early 21 st century that, in different ways, sought to open a debate about alternatives to paradigms of neoliberal development. What has this meant for the way that human rights are understood and for patterns of human rights compliance? Using qualitative and quantitative evidence, this article discusses how human rights are imagined and the compliance records of new Left governments through the lens of the three ‘generations’ of human rights — political and civil, social and economic, and cultural and environmental rights. The authors draw in particular on evidence from Andean countries and the Southern Cone. While basic civil and individual liberties are still far from guaranteed, especially in the Andean region, new Left countries show better overall performances in relation to socio-economic rights compared to the past and to other Latin American countries. All new Left governments also demonstrate an increasing interest in ‘third generation’ (cultural and environmental) rights, though this is especially marked in the Andean Left. The authors discuss the tensions around interpretations and categories of human rights, reflect on the stagnation of first generation rights and note the difficulties associated with translating second and third generation rights into policy.

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© 2018 International Institute of Social Studies. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details

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