462.3 New democracies and respect for humam rights: Does a culture of respect for human rights naturally evolve with the return to democracy?

Friday, August 3, 2012: 9:40 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Nancy CARDIA , Center for the Study of Violence, University of São Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sérgio ADORNO , Department of Sociology, Center for the Study of Violence, University of S. Paulo (USP), Sao Paulo, Brazil
This paper discusses the obstacles to the development of a culture of respect for human rights in Brazil as identified in a series of surveys carried out in the last decade (2001 to 2010) as well as by national data (1999 and 2010) and data from Latinobarometro.

It is a widely shared assumption that in democratic regimes there are less human rights violations, in particular of violations perpetrated by state officials. Still wide respect for human rights, though essential for democracy to prosper, does not seem to be a mandatory result from the process of democratization. In fact this process seems to be more complex involving both internal and external sources of pressure. Incomplete democracies, such as Brazil, contrast with the “good” democracy- the ideal that is to be pursued -defined as presenting “a stable institutional structure that realizes the liberty and equality of citizens through the legitimate and correct functioning of its institutions and mechanisms” (Morlino, 2004; p.12).

In Brazil it was expected that improved access to socio-economic rights,  as well as some improvement in the control of urban violence would have a positive impact on support for rule of law  and in development of a culture of respect for human rights. Continued monitoring of society’s support for human rights and for rule of law indicate otherwise. A reduction in the public’s exposure to violence is not followed by a growth in the support for rule of law or for greater control over the use of force by law enforcement agents. Worse still it appears that new generations born after the return to democracy do not express greater support for human rights than that of their parents.