ProQuest's Latest Addition to DNSA Provides an Insider Look at the Birth of U.S. Human Rights Policy

Newly obtained declassified documents detail how human rights abuses in 1970s-80s Argentina drove a new international role for the U.S.

Dec 11, 2012, 12:51 ET from ProQuest

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ProQuest expands its acclaimed Digital National Security Archive (DNSA) with newly declassified files that chronicle the development of U.S. policy as it attempted to deal with the tragedy experienced in Argentina during the critical, formative period of the late 1970's – a time that featured a political collapse verging on civil war; a military coup; and massive illegal detentions, torture and kidnappings.  The records, described by the National Security Archive as "extraordinary," are currently being used as evidence in dozens of human rights trials against former military officials in Argentina, making access to them particularly timely.

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Published by ProQuest in collaboration with the National Security Archive, DNSA provides online access to the most significant declassified primary documents in key areas of U.S. foreign and military policy since 1945.

"The National Security Archive's relationship with ProQuest makes a particularly powerful content set far more accessible to students, researchers, historians, political scientists and international relations specialists," said NSA Director Tom Blanton. "These extraordinary records help to further an understanding of issues with striking relevance today – Latin America's struggle to cope with its violent political history; the underpinnings of U.S. policy toward Latin America; and the role of human rights in the international arena."

Argentina, 1975-1980: The Making of U.S. Human Rights Policy, the 39th DNSA collection, reveals U.S. officials grappling with human rights violations on a scale never heard of in the Western Hemisphere, punctuated by the disappearance of tens of thousands of people at the hands of Argentine security forces.  The declassified records in this set -- most of them acquired through original research by National Security Archive project staff and never before published -- have been carefully selected to tell the story. The collection opens with the clamoring of the Argentine establishment in early 1976 for an end to chaos, anarchy, and political violence, which culminated in support for the military coup d'etat. By the second half of that year, U.S. officials were noting the disappearance of thousands of people, and in 1977, the Carter administration began to implement an innovative and vocal human rights policy to stop the military violence. The collection wraps up during the early years of the Reagan administration, with U.S. officials such as Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams pressing Argentine generals to address the wrenching problem of "children taken from their families during the dirty war" by security forces. 

DNSA is created by the National Security Archive, with each set carefully curated by an expert in the field.  Each collection is years in the making, as the Archive selects the most important documents based on broad archival research, active use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), including going to court if necessary, and even the sourcing of documents from relevant countries, as appropriate.  The result is a comprehensive set of declassified materials providing unparalleled coverage of the subject, event, or region. 

ProQuest's expansive digitization program broadens access to unique information that advances research and global knowledge. To learn about ProQuest's mission to make serious research more productive, visit

About the National Security Archive

The National Security Archive is an innovative, award-winning research institute, library and publisher of declassified documentation based at The George Washington University.  Since 1985 the Archive's mission has been to expand public knowledge and debate over critical issues in United States foreign policy by identifying, making available (through the Freedom of Information Act), organizing, indexing and disseminating the primary sources that make up the available historical record. 

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