ELLA Guide: Human Rights in Latin America

This Guide highlights the key policies and practices that have made advances in Human Rights possible


Human rights have played a key role in ending dictatorships in Latin America, inspiring democracy, fostering social justice and generating a more empowered and active citizenship. This ELLA Guide highlights the key policies and practices that have made these advances possible. In particular, it focuses on two aspects of the Latin American experience. First, it explores the ways that states have implemented concrete legislative and public policy actions at the national and regional level to meet their obligations to protect and defend human rights. And second, the Guide highlights the impact of the activism of a vibrant civil society in using these mechanisms to promote and guarantee the realisation of human rights, and in creating oversight mechanisms to monitor states’ compliance with their human rights obligations. In addition, the Guide points readers to key publications about Latin America’s human rights experience and key organisations working on human rights within the region. The policies, practices and lessons presented in the Guide will be useful for policymakers, academics, human rights defenders, civil society organisations (CSOs) and donors from other regions interested in accessing the Latin American experience in advancing human rights.

Key Lessons:

Building legislative and institutional frameworks inspired by adopting human rights norms represents the first step in creating a solid foundation to protect and defend human rights at the domestic level.

Latin America’s regional and national courts have established advanced criteria in defining the scope and content of human rights and specific state obligations to ensure their effective realisation.

Latin American countries have started to undertake administrative, financial and even methodological changes to make human rights operational.


Toledo, C. ELLA Guide: Human Rights in Latin America. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 14 pp.

Published 1 January 2013