Overview of the human rights and democracy situation
Uruguay is an established and effective democracy. It enjoys considerable political and economic stability, with a robust rule of law. It is considered one of the most transparent and least corrupt countries of the world. The overall human rights situation in Uruguay remains positive and stable, with fundamental freedoms and human rights respected overall. Noteworthy legislative advances have been made in 2018 (a Comprehensive Law against Exploitation and Human Trafficking; a Law modifying the Code of Criminal Procedure; a Comprehensive Law on Transvestite, Transsexual and Transgender People; a Law on Labour Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Private Sector; a Law on the Recognition and Protection of Stateless Persons). Nonetheless, lack of financial and human resources hinder somewhat their effective implementation. In spite of gender-related legislative progress, an important surge of gender-based violence could be observed recently. Deficiencies remain in terms of addressing discrimination against Afro-descendants and the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) community and improvements are needed in the anti-discrimination policy. The use of extended pre-trial detention is resulting in prison overcrowding and the related negative consequences. A similar situation can be observed in juvenile detention centres.
Key focus areas:
• eradicating all forms of violence and discrimination against women,
• promoting gender equality and cultivating an overall environment of non-discrimination, with special attention to the LGBTI community, persons with disabilities, elderly and Afro-descendants.
To this effect the EU Delegation in Uruguay engages proactively with the Uruguayan civil society, in particular through the annual structured dialogue, and carried out several major public events.
EU bilateral political engagement
In 2018, the EU Delegation launched an EU Human Rights Award to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It provided well-deserved visibility to the Uruguayan civil society and was on occasion to strengthen the already positive relations between the EU and key Uruguayan human rights institutions and civil society organisations. The participation of the Head of the Human Rights Secretariat of the Presidency of Uruguay contributed to increase visibility and impact of the event. .
The EU Delegation carried out awareness activities promoting gender equality both in Montevideo and in the interior of the country. In addition, three discussion panels entitled "Gender equality, commitment for all" were organised, as well as a panel on "Women in Science". In partnership with UN Women, International Labour Organisation (ILO), and the Uruguayan Presidency, the EU Delegation launched a regional project to promote gender equality in the private sector ("Ganar Ganar"). In order to give further visibility and enhance the impact of the project Ganar Ganar, the EU Delegation ensured the direct involvement of President Vázquez, who participated in the official launch of the project, providing greater media coverage and a wider outreach.
Addressing non-discrimination, the Delegation organised a volunteering activity to support the "Teletón", a foundation assisting children with disabilities. Additional activities were carried out in partnership with EU-financed projects "Vejez + Activa" (supporting the elderly) and "Horizonte de Libertades" (facilitating integration of discriminated adolescents).
EU financial engagement
The EU is financing the following projects in Uruguay:
- "Uruguay mira la trata" (total cost: 511.000 Euros) studies trafficking in human beings in Uruguay, implements capacity building activities and promotes public policies. The analysis of the situation has started and contributions have been provided during the consultations for the Comprehensive Law against Exploitation and Human Trafficking.
- "Cooperación con equidad" (total cost: 467.172 Euros) empowers the political participation and the socio-economic rights of women working in the cooperative sector.
- "Horizonte de libertades" (total cost: 530.249 Euros) contributes to the social, economic, cultural and political integration of discriminated adolescents. The project raised awareness and enhanced citizen participation in the law-making process of the 2018 Comprehensive Law on Transvestite, Transsexual and Transgender People.
- "Más Conocimiento, Más Participación, Más Derechos" (total cost: 520.000 Euros) promotes the full exercise of children and adolescents' rights. The project established a monitoring system for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as raised awareness and strengthened engagement of the youth.
- "Vejez + Activa" (total cost: 742.948 Euros) contributes to the development of the national care system and to the quality of the provided care services.
- "Red Calle" (total cost: 473.817 Euros) seeks to improve the living conditions of the homeless by strengthening national policies and sharing experiences with Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay.
- "Ganar Ganar" (total cost: 1 million Euros) promotes gender equality in the private sector. So far 30 Uruguayan enterprises committed to apply Women Empowerment Principles.
Uruguay is a founding member of the United Nations and is strongly committed to multilateralism. It is a reliable and trustworthy partner for the EU across a wide range of issues, including human rights. Uruguay was elected for a seat at the UN Human Rights Council for the 2019-2021 period, following a successful campaign based on its achievements.
In 2019, Uruguay will be scrutinised by the 32nd session of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. It is strongly committed to the process and to civil society participation. Uruguay has set up a permanent voluntary dialogue with civil society with the objective to define the country's response to the UPR issued recommendations.
Uruguay was one of thirteen countries, alongside the EU, launching the new global initiative to promote “Good Human Rights Stories” in the margins of the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York in September. Uruguay also joined the EU-led “Alliance for Torture-Free Trade” at the second Ministerial meeting in New York in September.