Lourdes Peroni

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Nine out of ten persons in Paraguay believe the state does not give priority to the security concerns of the poorest segments of the population.[1] In societies affected by profound social and economic disparities such as ours, is security likely to turn into one of most unfairly distributed goods? Is security sometimes likely to be advanced in benefit of the most favored at the expense of the disfavored?

In this paper, I seek to draw attention to (i) the risks that markedly structural inequalities may pose to the democratic legitimacy of the processes by which collective decisions concerning security are made and (ii) the possible unfair implications of such decisions for the most marginalized segments of society. My first claim may well be read within the framework of current efforts examining the democratic authority of laws or policies in contexts of severe socio-economic disadvantages such as the Latin American.[2]

[1] United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) National Report on Human Development Paraguay 2008, at 110

[2] I will be applying a familiar analysis that brings inclusion into the democratic assessment exercise. For one of the most prominent critical examinations of criminal laws more generally from a deliberative democratic perspective see e.g., Roberto Gargarella, “De la Justicia Penal a la Justicia Social,” available at Gargarella questions the legitimacy of criminal norms adopted in such contexts, especially those resulting from punitive populist approaches. I am broadly sympathetic to the ideas of inclusion and deliberation underlying this criticism.


Paper originally presented at SELA 2010, Insecurity, Democracy, and Law, in Santiago de Chile as part of the session on “Equality and Punishment”.