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OHCHR – Regional Office for Central America and Dominican Republic

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In line with the mandate of the High Commissioner/OHCHR (GA resolution 48/141), the Regional Office for Central America and Dominican Republic (RO-CADR), based in Panama City (Panama), promotes and protects human rights, through the monitoring of human rights situations, technical assistance and advisory services to the State, national institutions, and civil society of the countries of the region. It works primarily on poverty and inequality, non-discrimination, insecurity and violence, rule of law and impunity issues. It cooperates closely with the UN Resident Coordinators (RC) and UN country teams (UNCT), regional human rights mechanisms, the LAC Regional UN Development Cooperation Office (DCO) and ILO, IOM, PAHO, UN Women, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNEP, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF and UNODC. 

At country level, it cooperates with the RC/UNCTs, through a network of International/National Human Rights Advisors/Officers to support RCs in Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Panama. The Regional Office team also has a Regional Gender Adviser and a Focal Point on Treaty Bodies and Capacity Building. OHCHR participates in the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) in the aforementioned countries on people on the move, gender, indigenous peoples, protection and people deprived of their liberty and risks, emergencies and disasters for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Type of engagement Regional Office
Year established 2007
Field offices Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama
Number of staff 16
Annual budget needs US$ 1,851,000


  • The Regional Office has supported authorities, UNCTs, national human rights institutions, civil societyand other stakeholders to integrate human rights in the socioeconomic response and recovery from COVID-19 in the region. The Regional Office facilitated spaces for participation and inclusion of civil society; and undertook advocacy to protect civic space, in particular, increasing the protection of human rights defenders from undue restrictions to and attacks against their legitimate work.
  • The Regional Office maintained close contact with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in particular to exchange information and issue prevention measures to protect human rights defenders in the region. OHCHR provided an analysis on the integration of international standards on the protection of human rights defenders in El Salvador in the context of the discussion of the Draft Special Law on Integral Protection for Human Rights Defenders.
  • In Central America OHCHR continued to mainstream human rights in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. In 2019, for instance, jointly with DCO and UNDP, OHCHR brought together high-level government officials of Latin America to exchange practices and lessons learned as part of the follow-up to their reviews under the UPR mechanism of the Human Rights Council (HRC).
  • OHCHR continued monitoring and reporting the impact of migrationpolicies on the human rights of people of all countries in the region, including by participating in interagency activities and coordinating actions with national human rights institutions (NHRIs). Technical assistance provided by OHCHR increased Panama's NHRI and civil society capacity to monitor and report on the situation of migrants. This enabled the NHRI to promote and advocate on the access to health, food, water and sanitation and to end overcrowding conditions in the Migration Centres, as well as to prevent the involuntary return of 200 migrants to Haiti. OHCHR also joined communication actions in radio spots in emberáindigenous language to inform about migrant's rights and health measures to avoid COVID-19.
  •  The Office continued to promote the Latin American Model Protocol for the investigation of the gender-related killings of women. Virtual training courses were made available in Costa Rica and El Salvador to reinforce the capacities of key judicial authorities in the investigation of femicide cases. In Costa Rica, following a series of webinars to judicial officials to address negative gender stereotyping, the Judiciary engaged with OHCHR to elaborate a guide on integration of gender perspective in judicial decisions. OHCHR continued its advisory role in UN regional inter-agency settings and in national inter-agency groups on gender in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama.
  • Under the UN Free & Equal campaign, in May 2019 the Office launched a subregional campaign to raise awareness about the human rights concerns of LGBTI persons in Central America and to advocate for the adoption of adequate public policies and legislation to tackle discrimination, stigma and violence against this population in Costa Rica, El Salvador and Panama. In Costa Rica and Panama, OHCHR increased awareness and support for LGBTI equality among the general public on the recognition and acceptance of same-sex marriage. In Panama, OHCHR facilitated a series of webinars, as spaces of dialogue and participation between LGBTI groups and State authorities, which resulted in a roadmap for the institutional response to address the impact on the human rights of LGBTI people in the context of COVID-19.
  • In Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama OHCHR supported civil society organizations and the national human rights institutions to participate in the third UPR cycle reviews by building their capacity to effectively use this mechanism and create spaces for dialogue and coordination in the preparation of CSO contributions.
  • Since April 2018, OHCHR has continued monitoring remotely the human rights situation in Nicaragua with a dedicated team working on the country and issued monthly/bi-monthly bulletins. Since July 2019, regular updates have been presented the HRC, including a written report, as mandated by HRC resolutions 40/2 and 43/2. It has also addressed urgent individual cases and situations with the Government providing concrete recommendations to mitigate social and political conflicts, and human rights violations as well as offering technical assistance to authorities and the NHRI to comply with international human rights norms and standards.
  • The Nicaragua team has continued carrying out monitoring, early-warning, outreach, advocacy, reporting and protection activities, including relating to the impact of COVID-19, in order to prevent or minimize further exacerbation of the ongoing sociopolitical and human rights crisis. Such actions especially focus on the situation of persons arbitrarily deprived of their liberty, students, community leaders, political opponents, human rights defenders, journalists/media workers, children, victims and their families, migrants in neighbouring countries, asylum-seekers and indigenous communities, among others.
  • In 2019, OHCHR conducted a study on due process and human rights violations linked to the rights of women facing trials for crimes related to abortion in El Salvador and reviewed judicial files of women serving long prison sentences for homicide convictions after suffering obstetric emergencies. OHCHR facilitated the coordination between the NHRI and national and international women's NGOs to strengthen their litigation capacities in cases of women convicted. Due to coordinated efforts, five women were released in 2019 after the Supreme Court of Justice commuted their sentences; and a habeas corpus on behalf of 14 imprisoned women was successful on July 2020. As of 6 November, a woman was conditionally released, another obtained a reduced sentence, and the conditions of detention of ten women improved (e.g. through access to health services and the restoration of family contact).
  • In El Salvador, OHCHR works closely with the NHRI, providing technical assistance to better fulfil its mandate. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, OHCHR and the NHRI designed a remote monitoring plan through an application for mobile phones to collect hundreds of complaints from pandemic containment centers, hospitals, and the interior of the country, at a time when the government imposed severe restrictions on mobility. OHCHR has also been providing technical assistance to the NHRI for the elaboration of a thematic report on the compliance of state institutions with economic, social and cultural rights in the context of the COVID-19.
  • Based on the civil society efforts in El Salvador, and in accordance with the Criminal Prosecution Policy developed with OHCHR's technical assistance, the Office of the Attorney General have brought to court emblematic unpunished cases that occurred during the country's armed conflict, such as the El Mozote and El Calabozo massacre and the murder of the Jesuits priests and their collaborators, among others.
  • In Belize, the Office supports the government with technical assistance, including to strengthen national reporting to treaty bodies in a timely and consistent way. The office also facilitates UNCT engagement and dialogue with vulnerable groups especially, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In the Dominican Republic, the Office strengthened the capacity of the Government and CSOs to prepare and submit reports to the Committee against Torture (CAT) and CEDAW and take better advantage of the UPR follow-up process through a workshop organized in September 2019, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • In Costa Rica and in Panama, the Regional Office is implementing an EU-funded project on the promotion of a business and human rights agenda. In September 2020, the Regional Office hosted the one-week V Regional Forum on "Realising responsible business conduct (RBC) in difficult times: Turning challenges into opportunities", with the participation of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the President of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights. The forum aimed at exploring how Governments and businesses address and mitigate the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and promote RBC as a tool for an inclusive, responsible and sustainable recovery, respectful of human and labour rights and the environment. 

Partners and Donors

Partners: Governments, Parliaments, Judiciary, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations, universities, journalists, human rights defenders, private sector, RCs, UN Country Teams, Inter American Human Rights System.

Donors: Counterpart International, European Union, Germany, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and USA.

UN Human Rights Focus Areas

Thematic pillars
  • Mechanisms: Increasing implementation of the international human rights mechanisms outcomes
  • Development: Integrating human rights in sustainable development
  • Accountability: Strengthening rule of law and accountability for human rights violations
  • Non-discrimination: Enhancing equality and countering discrimination
  • Peace and Security: Early warning, prevention and protection of human rights in situations of conflict and insecurity
  • Participation: Enhancing & protecting civic space & people’s participation
  • Prevention
  • Civic space
  • Corruption
  • Inequalities
Spotlight populations
  • Women
  • Young people
  • Persons with disabilities
  • migrants

Last reviewed: November 2020

Contact information

Regional office website