Transitional justice is about the recovery of the rule of law and justice after mass violence. In the recent history of Argentina and South Africa, human rights politics have played an important role in the transition from repression to democracy as a discourse of resistance to state repression and as a framework and methodology for the successor state to manage demands for justice and promote reconciliation. Post-transition, they have provided a standard for the accountability of state institutions and evaluation of the democratic government's performance. In this article, we explore the roles of victims, survivors and relatives in the expansion of human rights politics. We argue that victims represent their suffering as embodied injustice and make their victim identity the focus of efforts to recover a moral contract between state and citizens. The expansion of human rights politics to include social and economic rights is an expression of the limits of transitional justice in recovering full citizenship in the context of the neo-liberal democratic project in Argentina and South Africa.