While only on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for a short time in our study, Paraguay has voted in favor of resolutions expressing concern over human rights in Syria (six times) and North Korea (two times, once by consensus)—placing it at odds, in many cases, with neighbors like Brazil and Bolivia. In the inter-American system of human rights, Paraguay is not always cooperative, not participating with the Commission on a case on freedom of expression in the 156th session, although it stepped up on specific cases in the 157th and 158th sessions. And lastly, despite at one time being a member of the ALBA bloc, under the former government of President Horácio Cartes, Paraguay did vote in favor of a resolution demanding increased pressure on the Venezuelan government. 

Below is a breakdown of Paraguay’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)  28
Civil Liberties (scores out of 60, with 60 being the best)  37
Reporters Without Borders  
World Press Freedom Index (scores out of 100, with 1 being the best) 32.40
Transparency International  
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 28/100
 Global Rank 137/180
World Justice Project  [1]  
Rule-of-Law Index  N/A
 Regional rank  N/A
 Global rank N/A
UN Human Development Index  
 Human Development Index 0.728
 Global rank 103
Americas Quarterly [2]  
 Social Inclusion Index 70.52/100
Regional rank  9/15

United Nations System:

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC or Council)

Paraguay most recently served on the Council from 2015-2017. It has generally voted to uphold human rights on the issue of Syria, North Korea, and Ukraine, while sometimes abstaining.[expandableHeadline]Read more[/expandableHeadline][expandableContent]

UNHRC Resolutions on the conflict in Syria

Resolution 34/26 The Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution 33/23 The Human Rights Situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution 30/10 The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution 29/16 The grave and deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution 28/20 The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
 Resolution 31/17  The Human Rights Situation in Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution 32/25  The Human Rights Situation in Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution 25/23  The continuing grave deterioration in the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution S-25/1  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 29/23 Cooperation and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights Abstained
Resolution 32/29 Cooperation with and assistance to Ukraine in the field of human rights  voted Yes

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in North Korea:

Resolution 28/22  Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea  voted Yes
 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: Paraguay received 208 recommendations. Accepted 202, noted 6. (only select topics listed below)

Area Received Accepted Noted
Civil society  3 3  –
Elections  1  1  –
Enforced disappearances  1 1  –
Extrajudicial executions  –  –
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly  –  –  –
Freedom of opinion and expression  10  10  –
Freedom of religion and belief  2  2  –
Freedom of press  8  8  –
Human rights defenders  13  13  –
Human rights violations by state agents  3  3  –
Impunity  3  3  –
Indigenous peoples  25  25  –
Internally displaced persons  –  –  –
International instruments  34  32  2
Justice  14  14  –
Migrants  1  –  1
Minorities  1  1  –
Racial discrimination  4  4  –
Sexual orientation and gender identity  10  10  –
Torture and CID treatment  8  8  –
Women’s rights  42  38  4
Total 208 202 6

Note: some comments are classified under multiple categories.

As commenter: Paraguay is not an active participant in the UPR process, with 242 comments made so far in the second cycle (for data available). 33% of Paraguay’s comments have been made towards other Latin American countries, but Paraguay has also consistently made two to five comments to most countries around the globe. Belize, Tajikistan, and Republic of Congo were the only exceptions, receiving 7 comments and 6 comments respectively from Paraguay.

Main topics of comments included: international instruments (79 comments), women’s rights (64 comments), rights of the child (40 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

Paraguay was last on the Committee from 1995 to 1998.

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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Despite once being a member of the Venezuela-led ALBA bloc, under the new government of President Horácio Cartes, Paraguay voted in favor of hearing Secretary General Almagro’s report on Venezuela before the OAS Permanent Council.

At the 2017 OAS General Assembly, Paraguay voted in favor of a U.S. and Mexico-backed resolution urging the Venezuelan government not to convene a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. Unlike other ALBA bloc members, like Bolivia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Paraguay voted against a CARICOM resolution calling on the Venezuelan government to reconsider withdrawing from the OAS. Neither of these resolutions was able to gain the required votes to pass.


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

On country-specific matters, Paraguay cooperates with the Commission. Despite its size, it has made financial contributions to the body, albeit irregularly.

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Hearing Issue Score
167th Gender and Diversity Policies in Paraguay (Ex-officio)
165th Judicial Independence and Due Process Guarantees in Paraguay
162nd Situation of ESCER due to the Installation of Substations and Power Lines in Paraguay, Human Rights Situation of Peasants and their Defenders in Paraguay and Protest and Human Rights in Paraguay (Ex-officio)
157th /158th Right to Freedom of Association in Paraguay  3/3
 157th /158th Sexual Violence and Human Rights of Girls and Adolescents in Paraguay   2/3
156th Violence against Journalists, Southern Cone 0/3

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

Year Contributions by Paraguay Percentage of Total
Contributions to IACHR
2011 $0 0%
2012 $24,900 1.4%
2013 $0 0%
2014 $0 0%
2015 $18,400 0.81%
2016 $0 0%


Electoral Missions

Paraguay has had 13 OAS missions. The most recent OAS mission was in 2015, previously there have been missions in 2013, 2011, 2010, 2008, 2007, 2003, 2000, 1998, 1993, and 1991.

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 Yes
Specific law enacted Yes- enacted in 2014
Is there a presumption of right? Yes
Scope/Exceptions/Overrides No mention of application to legislature or judiciary; exceptions for classified information and legitimate rights and information of others.
Received information under FOIA law? N/A
Received information within a week? N/A
Received the appropriate information? N/A

(Data taken from the Global Right to Information ratings, provided by the Center for Law and Democracy.)[/expandableContent]

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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Paraguay has one of the lowest rates of female homicide in Latin America. At a rate of 1.8 per 100,000 women, it trails only Argentina, Chile and Peru. Paraguay passed its first law regarding femicide in 2017. The Law for Integral Protection against Violence against Women, recognized femicide as gender-based killing. The penalties for cases classified as femicide is up to 30 years in prison, the maximum penalty in Paraguay.


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 (ILO 169)—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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According to data from 2012, there are 112,848 indigenous peoples in Paraguay, representing 1.7 percent of the total population.

Paraguay voted in favor of UNDRIP and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; it also signed ILO 169 in August 1993.


[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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