Though a member of the Hugo Chavez’s -inspired ALBA bloc, Ecuador has a curious record in its international commitment to democratic norms and human rights. On the UNHRC, Ecuador has a mixed record voting on human rights resolutions on North Korea, Syria and Ukraine—at times voting to condemn, at times abstaining, at others voting against. The votes broke Ecuador from its supposed ideological allies, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua and Cuba.   

The votes are all the more curious given the government of President Rafael Correa’s very public stance in other areas of international human rights norms. In 2013, Ecuador led a group of Latin American governments that included Argentina, Bolivia, and Venezuela to gut the OAS’s Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. And, despite the failure of the effort, the government refuses to cooperate with the independent human rights body. Under President Correa the government also imposed a series of restrictions on civil society and its right to receive international support. Those policies parallel similar efforts in Venezuela, as well as China and Russia. The government has also railed against domestic election observation groups.  Nevertheless, President Lenin Moreno has shown a greater commitment to Indigenous rights and appears to be distancing himself from the more aggressive rhetoric and tactics toward political opponents and the media of his predecessor.

Below is a breakdown of Ecuador’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) 65
Political Rights (scores out of 40, with 40 being the best) 27
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) 32.62
Transparency International
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 39/100
 Global Rank 92/180
World Justice Project  [1]
Rule-of-Law Index  0.49
 Regional rank  22/30
 Global rank 86/128
UN Human Development Index
 Human Development Index (HDI) 0.759
 Global rank 86
Americas Quarterly [2] (latest report 2016)
Social Inclusion Index 79.88/100
Regional rank  4/15

United Nations System:

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC or Council)

Ecuador served most recently on the Council from 2016-2018 and was also on the Council from 2011-2013. Ecuador has consistently abstained at the Council on the issue of Syria, but has voted for human rights on the issues of the Ukraine and North Korea. 

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UNHRC Resolutions on the conflict in Syria

Resolution 20/22 Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution 21/26 Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
 Resolution 19/01 The escalating grave human rights violations and deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  Abstained
 Resolution 19/22  Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic  Abstained
Resolution 24/22 The continuing grave deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  Abstained
 Resolution 23/01  The deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in Al-Qusayr  Abstained
 Resolution 23/26  The deterioration of the situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the need to grant immediate access to the commission of inquiry  Abstained
 Resolution 22/24  Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic  Abstained
Resolution 32/25 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  Abstained
 Resolution 31/17  The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic  Abstained
Resolution 33/23
The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic
 25th Special Session  The deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent situation in Aleppo  Abstained

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in Ukraine:

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

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in North Korea:

 Resolution 16/08 Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  Abstained
 Resolution 19/13 The situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  Consensus
 Resolution 22/13  The situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  Consensus
Resolution 31/18 Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  Consensus


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: Ecuador received 139 recommendations. Accepted 136, noted 3. (only select topics listed below)

Area Received Accepted Noted
Civil society  7 7  –
Elections  –  –  –
Enforced disappearances  1 1  –
Extrajudicial executions  –  –
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly  –  –  –
Freedom of opinion and expression  8  8  –
Freedom of religion and belief  –  –  –
Freedom of press  8  8  –
Human rights defenders  6  6  –
Human rights violations by state agents  3  3  –
Impunity  1  1  –
Indigenous peoples  9  8  1
Internally displaced persons  –  –  –
International instruments  17  17  –
Justice  17  17  –
Migrants  4  4  –
Minorities  3  3  –
Racial discrimination  2  2  –
Sexual orientation and gender identity  –  –  –
Torture and CID treatment  7  7  –
Women’s rights  21  21  –
Total 139 136 3

Note: some comments are classified under multiple categories.

As commenter: Ecuador is an active participant in the UPR process, with 238 comments made so far in the 2nd cycle (for data available). 28% made towards other Latin American countries, but consistently made 2-4 comments for most countries around the globe. Canada, Cuba, Djibouti, and Belize receiving 5 or more.

Main topics of comments included: international instruments (75 comments), women’s rights (45), and rights of the child (48).

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

Ecuador has not been on the Committee since at least 1993.

Inter-American System:

OAS Permanent Council

Under the new 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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Ecuador voted against the Permanent Council’s hearing of Secretary General Almagro’s report and was quite vocal in the debate. During the 2017 OAS General Assembly, Ecuador voted in favor of a CARICOM-backed resolution that called Venezuela to reconsider withdrawing from the OAS; but abstained on a U.S.-Mexico backed resolution that urged the Venezuelan government not to convene a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Venezuelan constitution.


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

In 2012 Ecuador led a regional effort to “reform” the IACHR. Among the reforms it proposed were limiting the country reports and on-site visits that are a fundamental component of the IACHR’s work. President Correa’s government also attempted to weaken the IACHR’s Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression that had sharply criticized a series of government laws and judicial cases. So, as would be expected, Ecuador is not cooperative with the IACHR, in our ranking scoring only below Cuba (not a member) and Nicaragua (no paragon of democratic rights).

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Hearing Issue Score
175th Case 13.388 Fernando Aguirre et al vs. Congress
173rd Truth, Justice, and Reparation for Crimes Against Humanity in Ecuador and Judicial Independence and the Role of the Transitory Citizen Participation and Social Control Council in Ecuador 
170th Precautionary Measure (309/18) – Efraín Segarra, Abril Paúl Rivas Bravo, Javier Ortega Reyes / Special Follow-up Mechanism (ESE) and Complaints of Femicide in Ecuador
169th Reports of Criminalization of Persons for the Use of Indigenous Jurisdiction in Ecuador and Situation of Disappeared Persons in Ecuador and the Rights to Truth and Justice
168th Judicial Independence in Ecuador
 159th Situation of the Right to Freedom of Expression in Ecuador  0/3
157th /158th Rights to Freedom of Association of Indigenous Peoples in Ecuador  0/3
 157th /158th  Luis Eduardo Guachalá Chimbo and Zoila Chimbo Jarro, Ecuador (case)   1/3
156th Case about Indigenous People in Voluntary Isolation 1/3
156th Case about Paola Guzman Albarracin & Family 0/3
156th Human Rights Defenders-Indigenous Peoples and the Environment 1/3
156th Compliance with Truth Commission 0/3

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

Year Contributions by Argentina Percentage of Total
Contributions to IACHR
2011 $1,500 0.06%
2012 $0 0%
2013 $0 0%
2014 $0 0%
2015 $0 0%
2016 $0 0%


Electoral Missions

The OAS has had fourteen electoral missions in Ecuador. The latest was in 2019 with the mission focusing on municipal and local elections. There have also been missions in 2016, 2013, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2002, 1998, 1996, and 1968. In the presidential elections in 2017, the OAS monitors played an important role in sanctioning the close results, avoiding a potential breakdown.

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* Yes- enacted in 2004
Is there a presumption of right* Yes
Scope/Exceptions/Overrides* Broad scope, but no right to ask questions; exceptions for military secrets/intelligence, with other laws allowed to classify info; no overrrides.
Received information under FOIA law?** 75%
Received information within a week?** 25%
Received the appropriate information?** 83%

*Data taken from the Global Right to Information ratings, provided by the Center for Law and Democracy. 
**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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In 2014, Ecuador passed the Organic Integral Penal Code. The Penal Code typified violence against women and other members of the family as a crime, depending on the gravity of the situation. Article 141 of the code includes the crime of femicide and defines it as the murder of a woman because of her gender. Punishment for femicide is 20 years in jail. Ecuador’s female homicide rate in 2015 was 2.2 per 100,000 women. 


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 2009 to 2013 out of 137 seats in the national legislature, seven were held by indigenous representatives, five of them women. That number increased to nine seats—four of them women—from 2013 to 2017. Ecuador does not have a quota for indigenous representatives in its national legislature.

2010 data showed 7 percent of the total population was indigenous, or 1,018,176 people. Twenty one percent of those were living in urban areas.

Although Ecuador voted in favor of UNDRIP, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and is a signatory to ILO 169, Ecuador has no law for its implementation and regulations governing the rights are overlapping and contradictory, similar to Bolivia. With no law though, the Ecuadorian ombudsman filed a petition (Arcos v. Dirección regional de miner 29) on behalf of the Chachi indigenous and Afro-descendent communities affected by a concession granted to a mining company. The petition invoked the state’s obligation under ILO 169 and the lower court’s decision in favor of the communities was upheld by the Ecuadorian constitutional court. 


[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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