International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Archbishop Oscar Romero and the International Day for the Right to Truth


Today is the International Day for the Right to Truth, created to help honor the victims of human rights violations and to further the norms of truth telling and justice. The day is also used to recognize and remember the work and values of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980 after speaking out against human rights abuses in El Salvador.

Romero was originally considered a conservative priest, but began to change his attitudes after witnessing the plight of the landless poor in El Salvador, along with government violence against socially committed members of the community. Romero was able to use the moral authority of his position to speak for the poor in El Salvador, who had been subject to violence, abuse, and injustice as a result of the country’s civil war.

Publicly denouncing human rights abuses in El Salvador led to his assassination in 1980; he was shot dead while delivering mass in a chapel. The UN created the International Day for the Right to Truth in 2010 to honor Romero and others who lost or devoted their lives to the protection of human rights for all.


2 responses to “Archbishop Oscar Romero and the International Day for the Right to Truth

  1. anisalarochelle March 25, 2015 at 8:16 am

    The right to truth is an obligation of the state to victims and family members of the right to justice as well as exposing secrecy and identifying perpetrators. International Right to Truth Day is an example of reparations given to victims of atrocities. It is a way for the world to formally recognize the struggles that they have endured. In creating this day, it is setting the precedent that there are ways for victims to receive justice and it will be publically celebrated. The Priest Romero is a testament to the opportunity that people in leadership positions have to make changes for the poor or those who do not have the means to do so.

  2. mtidona March 27, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    The UN General Assembly proclamation of March 24th as the International Day for the Right to the Truth is extremely significant for different reasons. Arguably most important of those reasons is that this day represents the international community’s recognition of the importance of the “Right to Truth” for victims of grave human rights abuses and violations. This international recognition establishes the Right to Truth as an emerging international norm. In the Mendez reading, he states that the “Right to Truth” is an emerging principle, which is not the law, and thus constitutes a loose obligation on states. However, actions such as proclaiming an “International Day for the Right to the Truth” help this principle transform into a norm. This transformation is important because a principle is something people believe is the right thing to do, but a norm carries more weight, as it becomes the culturally appropriate thing to do. A norm is more likely to be acted on and an International Day to recognize victims “right to the truth” about the human rights abuses they and/or their close ones suffered is a step in the right direction for human rights improvements all over the world.

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