Why the APDH?


The Permanent Assembly for Human Rights (APDH) is the result of a 1975 summons by Argentines from the most diverse social, political, intellectual, vocational, and religious sectors of the country, in response to the growing situation of violence and the country’s increasing failure to uphold the most basic human rights. The APDH, along with other similar organizations, was given the difficult and risky task of defending lives and rights during the tragic years of the military dictatorship (1976-1983). Within this group of human rights organizations, the APDH had certain characteristics which permitted it to play a role of its own as well as be publically recognized, both within the country and abroad:

1.) Built out of diverse parties and diverse social sectors, the APDH was established as a meeting place for collaboration at a time when political activity (in the broadest sense) in Argentina was frozen.

2.) For that exact reason, the APDH assumed the responsibility of what would today be called “political” resistance to the dictatorship: public denunciation within the country and in international forums, legal initiatives, steps toward the defense of victims of state terrorism, and above all, acting as the voice of society in the criminal accusation of the terrorist regime.

3.) Finally, this broad scope allowed them the capacity to make a popular summons, now that the diverse religious, political and social sectors were able to participate in demonstrations, publications, and acts of resistance without compromising their own convictions. The act of defining themselves as one entity whose actions centered strictly around the base of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, their country’s own Constitution, and recognized international legislation, established the limits of the APDH´s actions, at the same time, securing the possibility of a broad spectrum of participation and of a shared focus on a very broad set of problems. The various human rights entities had not always been able to act as one unit. On occasion, their positions did not coincide. The existence of disagreements was not necessarily a negative because the diversity of the organizations and of their different roles within the country allowed the APDH to have a multitude of foci and actions, assuming many different responsibilities. The APDH has managed to maintain its role as a place of meeting and discussion.

Because of the rampant human rights violations during the dictatorship, human rights activity responded in kind by working on an unprecedented level for the protection of life, human dignity, and social coexistence, without which, rights and individual guarantees would lack meaning and enforceability. Within Argentina, the APDH introduced the issues of education, culture, mental health, economic and social rights, peace, and prison conditions by means of a series of commissions which simultaneously carried out studies and investigations, produced publications, conducted surveys of public opinion, promoted education, all while instigating and supporting specific projects. At least one hundred professionals with the same goals actively worked ad honorem in these areas.

The works mentioned in the previous paragraph were incredibly important to the reinstatement of democratic life in the country. The minimum requirements for democratic success are:

a) An explanation of the immediate past, allowing the population to confront the reality of having lived through it: the APDH helped the National Commission on the Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP), created by the newly-formed civilian government, with its investigation of the military dictatorship and their final report, ¨Nunca Más¨ (Never Again). The outcomes of the trials that followed illustrated the overwhelming public opinion which opposed the decrees of amnesty;

b) The development of the collective experience of the dictatorship, as one that neither erased the memory nor transformed it into a perpetual and negative pain, but rather kept the memory alive as a means of reflection, and permanently weighed on the collective conscience of the citizens, inspiring them to protect a more democratic and participatory future;

c) The organization and maintance of archives containing documation of the repression under the last dictatorship which allows the study of the repression, its characteristics, procedures, and effects. These archives are a contribution to the international task of preventing and combating similar situations in Latin America and around the world. In this sense, the APDH is in the process of organizing its extensive archives and making them internationally accessible, allowing the facts to be verified and used most efficiently;

d) The continuation of legal work designed to improve national and international legislation that protects human rights in their diverse forms and characterizes and sanctions the offenses that violate them: the APDH has initiated or collaborated in national and international initiatives and its Legal Commission will permanently continue working in this sense;

e) The continued representation of the APDH before the government, in its various levels (executive, legislative, judicial, political, etc.), serves to prevent and denounce human rights violations as well as to propose and back initiatives in support of human rights.

The majority of this work is carried out by volunteers in the APDH headquarters in Capital Federal (the city of Buenos Aires) and in other branches throughout the country. Even so, it is necessary to maintain a minimum infrastructure to oversee the organization and process its communications (reception of information, reports, secretarial work, contact with the press), to maintain the archives. A minimal legal body and a very limited physical infrastructure (offices, machines, etc.) are also necessary. The financing of this infrastructure comes exclusively from personal donations from members and sympathizers of the APDH, and from international organizations with shared goals. Based on our experience, we are convinced that this work must continue and grow around this basic infrastructure and extensive volunteer force. Therefore, we believe that our work provides an indispensable service promoting the defense of life, the profound nature of an authentic democracy, and the importance of human rights.

To get information about the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights in English, please contact:

Gisela Cardozo
Press Secretary



Asamblea Permanente por los Derechos Humanos
Estatus Consultivo Especial ante el ECOSOC de la ONU - Organización acreditada en el registro de OSC de la OEA
Tel: (05411) 4372-8594 / 4373-0397, Fax: (05411) 4814-3714 - E-mail:
Av. Callao 569, 3er Cuerpo, 1er Piso - (1022) Buenos Aires, Argentina