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Parliamentary Diplomacy and Foreign Policy in Human Rights
December 9, 2017
(Perfil) Legislators can submit draft declarations condemning humanrights violations in dictatorial countries and ask for declarations from theirrespective governments in intergovernmental organizations; denouncecorrupt electoral processes that are neither fair nor transparent inautocratic regimes; and recognize the work and initiatives of democraticactivists whose lives are at risk.
By Gabriel C. Salvia

(Perfil) Human rights activists in the military dictatorships of South America, South Africa and the communist regimes of Central and Eastern Europe rely on the moral support of the democratic solidarity received from actors outside of their country. This is why Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are morally bound to assume regional and international leadership in the promotion and defense of human rights.

The actions of political activists don’t have to be exclusive of the governments and their respective chancelleries. There are several factors that limit the implementation of an active foreign policy on human rights, mainly citing economic issues. If this is the case, the priority assigned by each country must be to export its products and attract foreign investments. Consequently, it needs to be complemented by the actions of parliamentary diplomacy.

The Argentine Poder Legislativo Nacional (National Legislative Power) is independent of the Executive Branch. This is the republican system in countries such as those of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, and for this reason, parliamentarians have the political capacity to do what governments cannot, especially due to the fear of commercial reprisals.

For example, National Deputies and Senators may submit draft declarations condemning human rights violations in dictatorial countries and request denouncements from their respective governments in intergovernmental organizations. They also have the liberty to denounce electoral processes that are not free, fair and transparent in autocratic regimes. Finally, they can recognize the work and initiatives of democratic activists who put their lives at risk.

Obviously, the chancelleries and embassies of the dictatorships will be able to retort with their complaints. However, the diplomatic response of the government will always be that they are initiatives of representatives of an independent power. Argentina, Chile and Uruguay did not mention any reservations when they adopted the “Universal Declaration on Democracy” by the Inter-Parliamentary Union in 1997.

In Article 27 regarding ‘The International Dimension of Democracy,’ the following statement expresses what must be the guide for parliamentary diplomacy of which is internationally committed to human rights: “A democracy must defend democratic principles in international relations. In this sense, democracies should refrain from any undemocratic behavior, express their solidarity with democratic governments and non-state actors, such as non-governmental organizations working for democracy and human rights, and extend their solidarity to all victims of human rights violations in the hands of undemocratic regimes.”

On December 10, 2017, 69 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is appropriate from current democratic countries that lived through dictatorships to contribute initiatives to advance internationally in the ideal of freedom, peace and solidarity.

Source: Diario Perfil (Buenos Aires, Argentina)