OHCHR-Bolivia, the country office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Bolivia, was established in February 2007. The agreement signed between OHCHR and the Government and approved by Congress in July 2007 was extended most recently in August 2013, until August 2015.
As per the agreement, OHCHR-Bolivia provides technical assistance to State institutions and civil society organizations, promotes human rights and monitors and reports on the human rights situation in the country, including through an annual report of the High Commissioner to the Human Rights Council.
The thematic priorities of OHCHR in Bolivia are:
- widening the democratic space;
- the protection of human rights in development and in the economic sphere;
- countering discrimination;
- combating impunity, strengthening accountability and the rule of law;
- early warning and protection of human rights in the context of conflict, violence and insecurity;
- and strengthening the effectiveness of international human rights mechanisms and the progressive development on international human rights law.
In accordance with its mandate, OHCHR-Bolivia advises the executive branch, including the National Police and Armed Forces, on human rights policies and the legislative branch on drafting legislation which is consistent with international standards. In particular, the Office seeks to ensure that recommendations and decisions of UN human rights bodies are taken into account by competent authorities, advising them on the adoption of specific measures for implementation. Furthermore, the Office advises representatives of civil society and the national human rights institution on matters related to the promotion and protection of human rights, including on the use of international protection mechanisms.
In the context of its monitoring and reporting activities, OHCHR-Bolivia can receive information from any source, including victims and witnesses. In order to better monitor the human rights situation throughout Bolivia, the Office carries out regular field missions, including to rural areas, conducts visits to places of detention and monitors particular cases. The Office informs competent authorities of human rights violations and formulates recommendations with a view to possible remedial and preventive actions.
Addressing the long-standing crisis in the administration of justice and the prison system is a priority for OHCHR-Bolivia. In addition to its monitoring activities, the Office provides technical assistance and training for judicial authorities aimed at implementing on-going reforms to reduce high levels of pre-trial detention, judicial delays and corruption, amongst others.
The Office is stepping-up its work to combat sexual and gender based violence, including through work with the police and prosecutors to put into practice new legislation on violence against women, on trafficking and on political violence, as well as following paradigmatic cases of human rights violations against women.
Combatting racism and all forms of discrimination is another focus area for OHCHR-Bolivia. The Office provided support for the adoption of legislation and elaboration of an action plan to combat racism and discrimination and now works with the National Committee against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination towards their full implementation.
OHCHR-Bolivia also focuses on the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent through consultation, including by facilitating framework legislation on the right to consultation and monitoring the conduct of such processes in practice. The Office also assists in capacity-building for public officials in charge of the consultations and for indigenous organizations to meaningfully engage in them while respecting their traditional decision-making processes.
OHCHR-Bolivia facilitated the development of human rights indicators on education, employment, food, healthcare, housing and non-violence against women by relevant public institutions and assists them with the generation of data to guide the design of public policy. The Office also promotes the incorporation of a human rights based approach to annual operative plans, policies and budgets, as well as the development and implementation of the National Human Rights Action Plan.
The OHCHR country office cooperates closely with other UN Funds, Agencies and Programmes present in Bolivia, including UNDP, UN Women and UNICEF, as well as with international cooperation agencies.