Across the administrations of former Presidents Pepe Mujica and Tabaré Vázquez, and current President Luis Lacalle Pou, Uruguay has been a consistently liberal state in every major multilateral forum, voting in favor of human rights resolutions condemning Syria and North Korea in the UNHRC, consistently calling out the violation of political and civil rights through the UNHRC UPR process, voting in favor of hearing a report on Venezuela in the OAS Permanent Council under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and supporting the OAS Inter-American Commission of Human Rights. In the UPR process, Uruguay has also been a cooperative member of the liberal community, accepting recommendations made by other nations over human rights concerns in Uruguay.

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


Freedom House   
Freedom Status Free
Aggregate Score (100 is perfect freedom and protection of rights) 98
Political Rights (scores out of 40, with 40 being the best)  40
Civil Liberties (scores out of 60, with 60 being the best)  58
Reporters Without Borders   
World Press Freedom Index (scores out of 100, with 1 being the best) 16.06
Transparency International  
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 71/100
 Global Rank 21/180
World Justice Project  [1]  
Rule-of-Law Index  0.71
 Regional rank  1/30
 Global rank 22/128
UN Human Development Index  
 Human Development Index 0.817
 Global rank 55
Americas Quarterly [2]  
 Social Inclusion Index 86.80/100
Regional rank  1/15

United Nations System:

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC or Council)

Uruguay has been a member of the Council since 2019, with its term expiring in 2021. It is one of the countries that consistently votes to uphold human rights at the Council on the issue of Syria and North Korea.[expandableHeadline]Read more[/expandableHeadline][expandableContent]

UNHRC Resolutions on the conflict in Syria

Resolution 21/26 Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution S-19/1 The deteriorating situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic, and the recent killings in El-Houleh voted Yes
Resolution 20/22 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 voted Yes
Resolution 19/22 Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution S-18/1 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution S-17/1 The human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic voted Yes
Resolution S-16/1 The current human rights situation in the Syrian Arab Republic in the context of recent events voted Yes

UNHRC resolutions on the conflict in North Korea:

Resolution 19/13 The situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Consensus
Resolution 16/08 Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea voted Yes
Resolution 13/14 Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea voted Yes
Resolution 10/16 Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea voted Yes
Resolution 7/15  Situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea voted Yes


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: Uruguay received 188 recommendations. Accepted 187, noted 1. (only select topics listed below)

Area Received Accepted Noted
Civil society  2 2  –
Elections  3  3  –
Enforced disappearances  1 1  –
Extrajudicial executions  –  –
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly  –  –  –
Freedom of opinion and expression  –  –  –
Freedom of religion and belief  –  –  –
Freedom of press  –  –  –
Human rights defenders  –  –  –
Human rights violations by state agents  –  –  –
Impunity  1  1  –
Indigenous peoples  10  10  –
Internally displaced persons  –  –  –
International instruments  10  10  –
Justice  19  19  –
Migrants  –  –  –
Minorities  15  15  –
Racial discrimination  17  17  –
Sexual orientation and gender identity  3  3  –
Torture and CID treatment  3  3  –
Women’s rights  54  54  –
Total 188 187 1

Note: some comments are classified under multiple categories.

As commenter: Uruguay is an extremely active participant in the UPR process, with 775 comments made so far in the 2nd cycle (for data available). Only 16.5% made towards other Latin American countries, but consistently made 4-7 comments for most countries around the globe.

Main topics of comments included: international instruments (379 comments), women’s rights (127 comments), torture and other CID (97 comments), justice (77 comments), and enforced disappearances (73 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

Uruguay 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 (Uruguay’s former Foreign Minister), 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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Uruguay voted to hear the presentation of Secretary General Almagro’s report on the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela. At the June 2017 OAS General Assembly meeting on the situation in Venezuela, Uruguay voted in favor of a resolution urging the Venezuelan government not to convene a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. [/expandableContent]

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

In 2017, Uruguay had a candidate, Gianella Bardazano Gradin, up for one of three seats in the IACHR. The 165th session was held in Montevideo in October 2017, marking the first time the IACHR had held a session within the country. A public hearing on Uruguay was held during this session, as well as a hearing on the autonomy and independence of national human rights institutions within the country. The IACHR conducted a working visit to Uruguay in 2019 with the goal of obtaining information about the situation of human rights in the country. In May 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights referred a case regarding the international responsibility of the state of Uruguay for extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances during the civic-military dictatorship before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

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Hearing Issue
174th Challenges in the search for truth and justice in Uruguay
170th Human Rights of the Elderly: International Convention and its Follow-up Mechanism
165th Autonomy and Independence of National Human Rights Institutions in Uruguay
162nd Democratization of the Media in Uruguay

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

Year Contributions by Uruguay Percentage of Total
Contributions to IACHR
2011 $0 0%
2012 $0 0%
2013 $0 0%
2014 $0 0%
2015 $7,000 22.3%
2016 $24,500 77.7%


Electoral Missions

Uruguay has not had any OAS missions to monitor their elections. In fact, Uruguay shares this distinction only with Argentina, Barbados, Canada, Chile, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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 2008
Is there a presumption of right* Yes
Scope/Exceptions/Overrides* access to all persons; and includes access to all state and non-state bodies, exceptions being information on national security, confidential information (overly broad)
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. 


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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Although Uruguay has a low female homicide rate of 2.8 per 100,000 women, it did not have a law recognizing femicide until very recently. However, 2016 saw the creation and implementation of a law on gender-based violence. The law established specialized courts and a Gender Violence Observatory. The observatory produced specialized units in police stations throughout the country, and codified specific protocols that agents need to follow. Because femicide is not recognized explicitly in this law, there were no specific penalties for it. In practice, sentences were often increased when the murder was gender-based.

In 2017, Uruguay codified the crime of femicide with the approval of the Acts of Discrimination and Femicide bill, which amended Article 312 of the country’s Criminal Code. This modification defines the crime of femicide as a special aggravating circumstance when the killing of a woman is motivated because of her gender. Femicide calls for a penalty of 15-30 years imprisonment (compared with the maximum 12 years in the case of simple homicide).


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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Uruguay is not a signatory to ILO 169. However, it has voted in favor of UNDRIP and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


[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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