Madres and Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo with portraits of people disappeared in the military dictatorship in Argentina



This panel examines the circulation of jurisprudence and legal thinking between Europe and Latin America in terms of dealing with gross human rights violations committed under dictatorial regimes and armed conflicts. Rather than rework well-known stories of transitional justice within national borders, or comparing accounts of countries seen as discrete units, disconnected from transnational flows, we provide a socio-historical analysis of the interconnections between these two continents in terms of legal ideas and pro-accountability strategies developed since the 1970s. Combining Pierre Bourdieu’s theory on the social conditions of the international circulation of ideas and William Twining’s framework of examining processes of small-scale legal diffusion, we focus on the socio-political conditions in which this circulation occurred, the way they impacted on its adaptation to the local reality, as well as on the personal biographies, and the political and professionals purposes of the actors producing these transfers.

The organization of this panel is supported by the AHRC-LABEX joint funded project The Criminalization of Dictatorial Pasts in Europe and Latin America in Global Perspective (University of Exeter and University of Paris Ouest Nanterre).


David Copello (Sciences Po, Paris), The importation of Jacques Vergès’ strategy of rupture in political violence trials in Argentina. The paper examines how the concept of “rupture strategy”, popularized by Jacques Vergès during the Algerian war of decolonization in the early 1960s was imported and adapted in the Argentinean context of the early 1970s by radical left-wing lawyers involved in the defense of revolutionary militants judged by the military authoritarian courts. In the 1980s, however, the same lawyers had to reassess their use of “vergesian” vocabulary and reject the same rupture defense strategy used by the military in order to legitimize the junta trial.

Raluca Grosescu (University of Exeter), From Europe and Argentina and back to Europe. Circulation of anti-impunity strategies regarding crimes against humanity. The paper examines how the anti-impunity legal strategies employed by European legal thinkers and judges in the 1960s and the 1970s to deal with the Nazi crimes have been adopted in Argentina in the 2000s to overcome the impunity laws concerning the political crimes committed under the military junta. It then explores how the Argentinean jurisprudence on crimes against humanity was transferred to other Latin American countries and to Spain by judges of Argentinean origins or trained in Argentinean universities.

Sophie Daviaud (Institute of Political Studies, Aix-en-Provence), Circulation of norms, jurisprudence, and historical narratives between the ICTY and the Argentinean and the Colombian court. The paper looks at how the jurisprudence and procedures of the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) have been used and adapted in human rights trials in Argentina and Colombia. She argues that in Colombia, the ICTY priority rules were employed to restrain and rank prosecutions. This was due to the important involvement of European legal experts in the design of the Colombian transitional justice framework. In contrast, the ICTY jurisprudence was used by Argentinean judges to legitimize a maximalist justice model that actually comes in contradiction with the principles of the international criminal legal practice.