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From Conquest to Constitutions: Retrieving a Latin American Tradition of the Idea of Human Rights

From: Human Rights Quarterly
Volume 25, Number 2, May 2003
pp. 281-313 | 10.1353/hrq.2003.0023


The article explores the historical roots of the Latin American region's strong commitment to the idea of universal human rights, focusing on four key intellectual moments: the ethical response to the Spanish conquest; the rights ideology of the continent's liberal republican revolutions; the articulation of social and economic rights in the Mexican Constitution of 1917; and the Latin American contributions to the genesis of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Constructing a narrative from these examples, the article argues for the recognition of a distinct Latin American tradition within the global discourse of human rights.