Internationally, Bolivia’s position has been more oriented toward voting against human rights than defending them. But it has not been consistent. In our first report, Bolivia voted against human rights resolutions in Syria and Ukraine—a trend that continued during Bolivia’s most recent turn on the UNHRC. Regarding the OAS’s inter-American system of human rights Bolivia—Former President of Ecuador, Rafael Correra led an effort to gut the system—remained relatively cooperative with the regional human rights body.  

Below is a breakdown of Bolivia’s actions and votes at the various venues we are monitoring. For more information click on each title and summary.


Freedom House   
Freedom Status  Partly Free
Aggregate Score (100 is perfect freedom and protection of rights) 63
Political Rights (scores out of 40, with 40 being the best)  25
Civil Liberties (scores out of 60, with 60 being the best)  38
Reporters Without Borders  
World Press Freedom Index (scores out of 100, with 1 being the best)  35
Transparency International  
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 33/100
 Global Rank 113/176
World Justice Project  [1]  
Rule-of-Law Index  0.38
 Regional rank  29/30
 Global rank 121/128
UN Human Development Index  
 Human Development Index 0.718
 Global rank 107
Americas Quarterly [2]  
Social Inclusion Index 74.91/100
Regional rank  8/15

United Nations System:

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC or Council)

Bolivia is currently on the Council for a new term from 2021-2023 and was previously on the Council from 2015-2017. It is one of the countries that consistently votes against upholding human rights at the Council on the issue of Syria and North Korea, and Ukraine.

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UNHRC Resolutions on the conflict in Syria

Resolution 34/26  The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
Resolution 25/1 The deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent situation in Aleppo  voted Against
Resolution 33/23 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
Resolution 32/25 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
Resolution 31/17 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
Resolution 30/10 The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Against
 Resolution 29/16 The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against
 Resolution 28/20 The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  voted Against

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in Ukraine:

Resolution 32/29 Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights voted Against
Resolution 29/23 Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights voted Against

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in North Korea:

Resolution 33/3 Promotion of a democratic and equitable international order  voted Yes
 Resolution 31/18 Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  Consensus
 Resolution 28/22 Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  voted Against


UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review

As part of its mandate to promote human rights around the globe, the UNHRC has instituted a Universal Periodic Review, where, once every four years, each country’s human rights record is examined.  Other countries are invited to review the record and make comments and suggestions for improvement.  The country under review then acknowledges each comment by either “accepting” the comment, meaning typically that they agree to focus on, or “noting” it, indicating that they disagree and will not be focusing on improvements in this area.

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As recipient: Bolivia received 193 recommendations. Accepted 178, noted 15. (only select topics listed below)

Area Received Accepted Noted
Civil society  1 1  –
Elections  –  –  –
Enforced disappearances  –  –
Extrajudicial executions  2 2  –
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly  2  2  –
Freedom of opinion and expression  4  4  –
Freedom of religion and belief  –  –  –
Freedom of press  5  3  2
Human rights defenders  1  –  1
Human rights violations by state agents  –  –  –
Impunity  –  –  –
Indigenous peoples  12  11  1
Internally displaced persons  –  –  –
International instruments  16  13  3
Justice  27  23  4
Migrants  3  3  –
Minorities  5  5  –
Racial discrimination  9  9  –
Sexual orientation and gender identity  3  2  1
Torture and CID treatment  5  5  –
Women’s rights  49  49  –
Total 193 178 15

Note: some comments are classified under multiple categories.

As commenter: Bolivia has participant in the UPR process, with 133 comments made so far in the 2nd cycle (for data available). 33% made towards other Latin American countries, but consistently made 3-5 comments for most countries around the globe. Cuba, Israel and the United States were the exceptions, receiving 6 or more comments from Bolivia.

Main topics of comments included: international instruments (23 comments), indigenous peoples (22 comments), and women’s rights (15 comments).

Note: This data is for the 2nd cycle of the UPR.  However, the final round of countries were reviewed in November/December 2016, and that data is not yet available to include in our analysis here.[/expandableContent]

UN NGO Committee

Bolivia was on the committee from 2000 to 2002.

Inter-American System:

OAS Permanent Council

Under the former leadership of Secretary General Luis Almagro, the OAS has re-found its focus on promoting democracy around the region.  This was shown most clearly in a meeting in June 2016 where Almagro presented his report on the state of democracy in Venezuela and proposed invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

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Bolivia voted against the OAS Permanent Council’s hearing of Secretary General Luis Almagro’s report on the situation regarding democracy and human rights in Venezuela under the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

At the 2017 OAS General Assembly, it voted against a U.S.-Mexico backed resolution that urged the Venezuelan government not to convene a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Venezuelan constitution; but voted in favor of a CARICOM backed resolution that called on Venezuela to reconsider leaving the OAS.  [/expandableContent]

Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR or Commission)

Despite Bolivia’s support of a movement to limit the independence of the IACHR—an effort led by former President Correa of Ecuador—Bolivia under former President Evo Morales has been one of the more cooperative members of the inter-American system on matters of human rights, in particular reinforcing the government’s comments to indigenous rights and social inclusion.

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Hearing Issue Score
 173rd  Human Rights of Transexual and Transgender Persons in Bolivia
 172nd  Reports of sexual violence against adolescents in Bolivia
 170th  Re-elections in Bolivia, judgement 84/17 and the American Convention
 169th  Guarantees for the Independence of the Judiciary and Justice Operators in Bolivia and Reports of Harassment and Violence against Female Social Leaders in Bolivia
 165th  Judicial Independence in Bolivia
 165th  Reports of Sexual Violence against adolescents in Bolivia 3/3
 159th  Human Rights and Penal and Prison Reform in Bolivia 3/3
 157th /158th Human Rights Situation of LGBT Persons in Bolivia  3/3
 157th /158th  Indigenous Peoples’ Rights to Free, Prior, and informed Consultation in Bolivia   2/3
 156th Judicial Independence 2/3

Voluntary financial contributions to IACHR (as of Sept. 16, 2016) 

Year Contributions by Bolivia Percentage of Total
Contributions to IACHR
2011 $0 0%
2012 $0 0%
2013 $0 0%
2014 $0 0%
2015 $0 0%
2016 $0 0%


Electoral Missions

Bolivia has had several OAS electoral missions, the latest mission helped with Bolivia’s general election in 2020. There have also been missions in 2019, 2015, 2014, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2002, 1997, 1978, and 1966.

Freedom of Information Laws

Since 2000 the right to information and freedom of information laws have expanded across the region. However, the existence of the laws on the books does not necessarily mean full enforcement.

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Signatory/Participant in MESICIC* Yes
Constitutional protection* No
Specific law enacted* bill passed in 2013, but never signed into law
Is there a presumption of right* No
Scope/Exceptions/Overrides* N/A
Received information under FOIA law?** 43%
Received information within a week?** 45%
Received the appropriate information?** 42%

*Data taken from the Freedom House 2016 Country Report.
**Information from the 2015 World Justice Project Open Government Index


Women’s rights:

Protecting women against gender-based violence is a human rights issue often overlooked globally even though it crosses social, economic and national boundaries. And according to the United Nations Population Fund, gender-based violence undermines the health, security, dignity, and autonomy of its victims. Although 16 countries in Latin America had modified their laws to include a specific type of crime referring to the murder of women by 2015, they are not uniformly implemented, and practices to convict perpetrators of gender-based violence are still extremely weak. A 2016 report published by the Small Arms Survey found that Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world.

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As of 2015, Bolivia had a female homicide rate of 6.1 per 100,000 women despite the creation of the 2013 Comprehensive Law to Guarantee Women a Life Free of Violence that broadened the protection of women against 16 forms of violence and included the crime of femicide in the penal code.

Bolivia is also the only country to have specific legislation against political harassment, attacks and intimidation to force victims to give in to a perpetrator’s demands. While the law was created to protect female politicians, the threat against women politicians has increased from 10 per month from 2012, when the law was passed, to 25 in 2014—though the increase in reports could also have been due to greater awareness and protection. In 2014, there were 272 cases of political violence in over 150 municipalities.


Indigenous rights:

7.8 percent of the population in Latin America, roughly 41,813,039 people, identify as indigenous, 49 percent of them live in urban areas and 51 percent live in rural areas.

The Labour Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO 169)

The Labour Organization’s Convention 169 (ILO169)—which has the status of an international treaty—establishes the right of indigenous and tribal peoples to be consulted when a policy or project affects their culture or heritage through what is commonly called “previous and informed consent.” The vaguely worded treaty has been a point of contention in some countries, among governments, investors and communities; and progress in implementing it has been uneven. The Convention has been interpreted, in particular, as applying to issues of national resource extraction and infrastructure development that affect communal lands. In Latin America 16 countries have signed ILO 169. 

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People’s (UNDRIP)

Adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2007, all Latin American countries, except Colombia, which abstained, voted in favor of this declaration. The only four countries to initially reject this declaration were the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. While it is not a legally binding instrument, it is an “important standard” for the treatment of indigenous people. The declaration sets out the collective and individual rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education, and other issues. It prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them and their right to remain distinct and to pursue their own visions of economic and social development. The end goal is to encourage countries to work alongside indigenous communities to solve global issues, like development, multicultural democracy and decentralization.

American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People

In 2016, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples after a long negotiation of 17 years. The declaration recognizes the collective organization and multicultural character of indigenous peoples, the self-identification of people who consider themselves indigenous and special protection for peoples in voluntary isolation or initial contact. However, the declaration was met with resistance by members of the indigenous community, who complained that they did not have full participation in the negotiations and that the declaration rolled back several rights recognized in UNDRIP. The declaration does not mention the right to previous and informed consultation.

Previous to the declaration, in 1990, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had created the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to devote attention to Indigenous Peoples in the Americas and to “strengthen, promote, and systemize the IACHR’s own work in this area. The current Rapporteur on the Right of Indigenous Peoples is Francisco José Eguiguren Praeli, Ambassador of Peru to Spain from 2012 to 2014 and Minister of the Office of Justice. He received a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru with a master’s degree in Constitutional Law and a PhD in Humanities. Former Rapporteurs include, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine a former IACHR Commissioner and Dinah Shelton an international law consultant for the World Health Organization, the United Nations Environment Programme among other organizations.

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From 2010 to 2015 out of 166 total seats in congress, 41 seats were occupied by indigenous legislators, nine of them women. In all, indigenous representatives make up 24.7 percent of Bolivia’s single-chamber congress, the highest of the countries included in our study. Part of this is due to a seven-seat quota allotted to indigenous representatives.

In 2012 4,115,226 Bolivians identified as indigenous. Making 41 percent of the population indigenous. Forty eight percent of that population lived at the time in urban areas. 

Bolivia voted in favor of UNDRIP, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People and signed ILO 169. Although a signatory of ILO 169, there has been no law for its implementation and regulations governing the rights are overlapping and contradictory. In a series of government decrees and court decisions Bolivia has established a negotiated series of compromises and rights to land, but not refined the process, steps or institutional framework for previous and informed consent. 


[1]WJP Rule-of-Law Index measures 4 principles: 1) The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law; 2) The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights; 3) The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient; 4) Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
[2] AQ Social Inclusion Index uses 23 different factors to measure how effectively governments are serving their citizens, regardless of race or income, and is published annually by Americas Quarterly at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
[3] Hearings were scored by Global Americans on a scale of 0 to 3 to evaluate government participation. 0 indicates that the government did not send any representatives to participate. If representatives were present, they were scored from 1 to 3 based on how engaged the representatives were, 1 indicating that they objected to the hearing, to the jurisdiction of the Commission to review the topic or dismissed there being any issue to discuss. A score of 3 indicates full participation of the government, including acknowledgment of the issue and its importance, the jurisdiction of the Commission to review and engagement on how this issue will be addressed going forward.
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