1. The Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights considered the initial report
of Bolivia on the implementation of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/1990/5/Add.44) at its 15th,
16th and 17th meetings (E/C.12/2001/SR.15-17), held on 2 and 3 May
2001, and adopted, at its 28th meeting (E/C.12/2001/SR.28), held on
10 May 2001, the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee
welcomes the initial report submitted by Bolivia, the written replies
to the Committee's list of issues (E/C.12/Q/BOL/1), and the additional
information submitted during the dialogue. However, the Committee
regrets the 17-year delay in the submission of the initial report
as well as the delay in the submission of the written replies to the
Committee's list of issues.
3. The Committee
has considered the written materials submitted by Bolivia, which contain
mostly legal information. While this information is important, the
Committee regrets the absence of specific information on the practical
application of the legal framework, which is necessary for the Committee's
evaluation of the implementation of economic, social and cultural
rights in Bolivia.
4. The Committee
regrets that many of the questions put by the members of the Committee
were left unanswered or were answered by statements of a general nature.
B. Positive aspects
5. The Committee
welcomes the creation of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights
(1994), and the Human Rights Offices established by the Ministry in
the sensitive areas of the country. Similarly, the Committee notes
with appreciation the establishment in 1997 of the People's Defender
(Defensor del Pueblo).
6. The Committee
appreciates the elaboration by the State party of a comprehensive
and multidisciplinary "Promotion and Defence of Human Rights" project
with the assistance of OHCHR and UNDP.
7. The Committee
notes with appreciation that article 1 of the Constitution establishes
Bolivia as a multicultural and multi-ethnic democracy. In this regard,
the Committee notes with interest the announcement by the delegation
of the future enactment on 31 May 2001 of the new Penal Procedures
Code, which renders three of the main indigenous languages, namely
Quechua, Aymara and Tupi Guarani, languages of judicial and administrative
8. The Committee
notes with satisfaction the enactment of laws and the establishment
of a number of programmes and policies for promoting equality between
women and men, as well as the establishment in 1993 of a Subsecretariat
of Gender Affairs under the National Secretariat for Ethnic and Generational
Affairs of the Ministry for Development.
C. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Covenant
9. The Committee
notes the enduring negative economic conditions suffered by the State
party, due in part to the relatively undiversified structure of the
economy, the structural adjustment programmes undergone by Bolivia
since 1985 and its considerable foreign debt.
10. The Committee
is aware that efforts to introduce legal crops to replace cocaine
production in certain rural areas have led to the impoverishment of
the small farmers involved.
D. Principal subjects of concern
11. The Committee
regrets that laws incorporating the Covenant into Bolivia's domestic
legal system have not yet been adopted.
12. The Committee
is deeply concerned about allegations of corruption against certain
Supreme Court judges.
13. The Committee
is deeply concerned about the extent of poverty in Bolivia. According
to UNDP figures, 88.8 per cent of all households in Bolivia have an
income below the poverty line. Moreover, 90 per cent of these households
are in rural areas. This situation is reflected in indicators such
as infant mortality, life expectancy, literacy, and access to sanitation,
potable water and health-care services. In this regard, the Committee
deplores the highly uneven distribution of wealth in Bolivia.
14. The Committee
is particularly concerned about the marginalization of, and discrimination
against, indigenous communities in Bolivia, who constitute the majority
of Bolivia's rural population and who suffer from inadequate access
to basic education, adequate housing, and health services. Moreover,
the Committee is concerned that the State party does not acknowledge
the economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous populations
as a distinct group.
the impressive number of legal instruments and policies adopted by
the State party to ensure gender equality, the Committee expresses
its concern about the de facto inequality between men and women, which
is exacerbated by the perpetuation of traditional prejudices and social
conditions, such as discrimination in education of the girl child
in rural areas. Such discrimination is particularly reflected in the
low level of representation of women in public service, the high female
illiteracy rate, unequal wages for work of equal value, and the high
proportion of women working under inadequate conditions in the informal
sector or as domestic workers.
16. The Committee
deplores the de jure discrimination of salaried domestic workers
established in Chapter II of the General Labour Code, with regard
to daily and weekly rest and annual paid vacation, dismissal, social
benefits and salary. Further, the Committee is concerned that domestic
workers are subject to ethnic, class, gender and other discrimination.
17. The Committee
is concerned that the method for determining the minimum wage is arbitrary,
and that the current level of minimum wage does not secure a standard
of living in dignity for the affected workers and their families.
18. The Committee
considers that the excessively lengthy procedure for declaring a strike
legal constitutes a restriction on the right provided for in article
8 (1) (d) of the Covenant. Similarly, the Committee expresses concern
that restrictions imposed in the General Labour Law on trade union
rights infringe on the rights provided for in article 8 (1) (a) of
19. The Committee
deplores the practice of child labour and the exploitation of children
in domestic work, in particular the existence of the practice of indigenous
criaditos, which remains outside the control of the State party.
20. The Committee
is concerned that land reform is not a top priority on the Government's
agenda, and that the Government does not provide legal counselling
for farm workers with regard to establishment of title for their lands.
21. The Committee
is concerned about the large housing shortage, the incidence of forced
evictions with respect to peasants and indigenous populations in favour
of mining and lumber concessions, and the absence of effective measures
to provide social housing for low-income, vulnerable and marginalized
22. The Committee
is disturbed about the situation of children subjected to physical
and mental abuse, as well as the extent of child malnutrition in Bolivia.
23. The Committee
is concerned about the current status of reproductive health rights
of women, and in particular the high rate of maternal mortality -
the highest in Latin America -which is attributed to illegal abortions
and to the absence of medical assistance during childbirth.
24. The Committee
expresses its concern about the limited possibilities for indigenous
populations to enjoy education in their mother tongue and to use their
mother tongue in their dealings with public authorities.
25. The Committee
is concerned by the slow progress in the process of literacy training
and the still high levels of illiteracy in Bolivia. According to UNESCO,
the level of illiteracy for adults is 16.3 per cent. The situation
for children is also alarming: 70 per cent of children under 9 years
of age do not attend school.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
26. The Committee
strongly urges the State party to ensure that the Covenant is taken
into account in the formulation and implementation of all policies
concerning economic, social and cultural rights.
27. The Committee
encourages the State party to ratify the Protocol of San Salvador
to the American Convention on Human Rights, which the State party
signed in 1988.
28. The Committee
calls upon the State party to ensure that the economic, social and
cultural rights enshrined in the Covenant are directly applicable
in the domestic legal order.
29. The Committee
requests the State party to provide, in its second periodic report,
detailed information about the effect of the decentralization of government
on the enjoyment by Bolivian citizens of their economic, social and
30. The Committee
urges the State party to take remedial action against the marginalization
of, and discrimination against, indigenous populations in all sectors
of society. The Committee requests the State party to provide, in
its second periodic report, detailed information about the efforts
made by the State party to enhance the enjoyment of rural populations,
in particular rural indigenous populations, of their economic, social
and cultural rights.
31. The Committee
urges the State party to take effective measures to combat discrimination
against women in public, economic and social life.
32. The Committee
recommends that the State party adopt and implement programmes to
increase technical and professional training opportunities and job
opportunities and to reduce unemployment.
33. The Committee
calls on the State party to ensure just and favourable working conditions
to domestic workers, in particular with regard to daily and weekly
rest and annual paid vacation, terms of dismissal, social benefits
34. The Committee
recommends that the State party considers ratifying ILO Conventions
Nos. 2 (unemployment) and 29 (forced labour).
35. The Committee
urges the State party to ensure that the minimum wage is sufficient
to provide an adequate standard of living for the worker and his family.
36. The Committee
asks the State party to ensure that the excessive time period for
collective negotiation does not constitute an obstacle to the right
37. The Committee
urges the State party to combat violence against women by initiating
a campaign with a view to combating negative traditional practices
and prejudices and their effects and consequences. In this regard,
the Committee also calls on the State party to ensure adequate financial
and human resources for the implementation of the National Plan for
the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.
The Committee requests the State party to provide, in its second periodic
report, detailed information and up-to-date statistics on the phenomenon
of violence against women in Bolivia, as well as results of the measures
taken to combat this serious problem.
38. The Committee
also urges the State party to ratify ILO Convention No. 182 (worst
forms of child labour), and to take effective measures to eradicate
the phenomenon of criaditos.
39. The Committee
recommends that Bolivia explicitly take the Covenant into account
when implementing the policies, programmes and projects deriving from
its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which forms part of the enhanced
Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative. In this regard, the State
party is referred to the statement on poverty adopted by the Committee
on 4 May 2001.
40. The Committee
urges the State party to pursue land reform as a priority in its agenda,
to provide the economic and human resources needed for its implementation
and to proceed without delay with the title establishment procedures.
41. The Committee
recommends that the State party address the problems of the large
housing shortage, the high incidence of forced evictions and the lack
of social housing for low-income, vulnerable and marginalized groups.
The Committee requests the State party, in its second periodic report,
to give detailed information on the number and nature of forced evictions
having taken place in Bolivia, in accordance with General Comment
No. 7 of the Committee.
42. The Committee
urges the State party to address the problems and shortcomings facing
children and affecting their welfare, beginning with the varied types
of child exploitation such as the trafficking of children, their sexual
exploitation and domestic maltreatment. The Committee urges the State
party to provide the necessary financial resources needed for children's
education and the eradication of child malnutrition.
43. The Committee
calls upon the State party to take measures to reduce the female mortality
rate, and in particular to bring about a reduction of deaths caused
by illegal abortion and unassisted childbirth. In particular, the
Committee recommends that the State party intensify the implementation
of its National Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme, organize
educational campaigns regarding women's sexual and reproductive health,
and include such subjects in school curricula.
44. The Committee
recommends that the State party give priority to education in its
budget, establish literacy programmes for adults, in particular in
the rural areas, and make efforts to increase the school attendance
levels of children under the age of 9. In this regard, the State party
is urged to implement a comprehensive national plan for education
for all, as anticipated by paragraph 16 of the Dakar Framework of
Action, taking into account the Committee's General Comment Nos. 11
45. The Committee
encourages the State party to proceed with enacting the Penal Procedures
Code, which renders three of the main indigenous languages, namely
Quechua, Aymara and Tupi Guarani, languages of judicial and administrative
46. The Committee
recommends that the State party avail itself more actively of technical
assistance and cooperation from the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Human Rights and the relevant United Nations specialized
agencies and programmes, particularly in the preparation of its second
periodic report to the Committee.
47. The Committee
requests the State party to disseminate its concluding observations
widely among all levels of society and to inform the Committee on
all steps taken to implement them. It also encourages the State party
to consult with non-governmental organizations and other members of
civil society in the preparation of its second periodic report.
the Committee requests the State party to submit its second periodic
report by 30 June 2005, and to include in this report detailed information
on the steps it has taken to implement the recommendations contained
in the present concluding observations.