Behind the Disappearances
Argentina's Dirty War Against Human Rights and the United Nations
"Well written, thoroughly researched and completely absorbing."—International Affairs
"One of the best and most interesting treatments of the human rights movement, and of the dynamics of the United Nations human rights system, written to date."—Human Rights Quarterly
"Truth is more chilling than fiction. And when the tale is spun by an adroit writer, the truth is more compelling still. . . . Guest develops a suspenseful plot, making Behind the Disappearances truly an educational page turner."—Clifton Magazine
Drawing on confidential Argentinian documents and memoranda, Behind the Disappearances documents a seven-year diplomatic war by one of the twentieth century's most brutal regimes. It relates how, starting in 1976, Argentina's military government tried to cripple the UN's human rights machinery in an effort to prevent international condemnation of its policy of disappearances. Initially this attempt succeeded, but in 1980—with encouragement from the Carter administration—UN officials regained the initiative and created a special working group on disappearances that rejuvenated the UN's efforts. This progress was abruptly halted in 1981 when the Reagan administration sided with the Argentinian regime. The result, claims the author, not only undercut the UN's actions against disappearances but also weakened its chances of playing a positive role in aiding Latin America's transition from dictatorship to democracy.
Iain Guest served as a UN spokesperson in Cambodia and Haiti and was a Senior Fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, where he specialized in Rwanda and Bosnia. Guest is a founding member of the Advocacy Project, which advises advocacy groups on using the new information technology in their campaigning and produces the electronic newsletter On the Record. He is currently visiting fellow at the Overseas Development Council in Washington, D.C.