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Bolivia’s greatest challenge: Ensure economic sustainability of the social inclusion model and its contribution to human rights


GENEVA/LA PAZ (15 May 2019) – Bolivia must ensure that its social inclusion model is economically sustainable and enhances the enjoyment of human rights, said the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky.  

“Bolivia’s ‘economic social communitarian productive model’ has been remarkably successful from an economic perspective. The country has been transformed from a heavily indebted developing country to one of the fastest-growing economies in the region,” Bohoslavsky said.

Public investments since 2006 aimed at improving social conditions had borne fruit but the critical question now is whether this model could be sustained in the long-term, from economic and human rights perspectives. “To answer in the affirmative, there are structural strains, rising tensions and contradictions within the system that the country must deal with,” he said in a statement after a 10-day visit to the country. 

“Even when the Government has started to make efforts towards economic diversification, it has been long overdue and prolonged the vulnerability of fiscal revenue to external factors, such as international oil prices. The tax base needs to be broadened to increase its redistributive effect. The large informal economy implies not only lost revenue to the State, but also a lack of social protection for all those working in the informal sector.”

Bohoslavsky said women were disproportionately affected by unpaid care work and barriers in entering the formal labour market. “Another area of tension is infrastructure development and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples. Infrastructure development needs be based on robust, comprehensive and effective legislation on human rights impact assessment,” he said.

“While economic growth has brought many benefits to the population, I do see the need for deep reflection on rising tensions among different values and goals – mass consumption and the concept of living well; property and collective rights, solidarity and individualism propelled by the market economy; and extractivism and the protection of Pachamama (Mother Earth),” the UN Expert said..

“As I highlighted in the Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments of Economic Reforms, States’ obligations under international human rights law should guide all efforts to design and implement economic policies. The economy should serve the people, not vice versa,” Bohoslavsky said.

The final report on the visit will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in February 2020.


Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky (Argentina) was appointed as Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and human rights by the United Nations Human Rights Council on 8 May 2014.  He has previously worked as a Sovereign Debt Expert for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) where he coordinated an Expert Group on Responsible Sovereign Lending and Borrowing. He is independent of any government or organization and serves in his individual capacity.

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page – Bolivia

For more information and media requests, please contact:

During the visit: Robert Brockmann (United Nations Information Center in Bolivia, tel. +5912 2624511 / brockmann@un.org)

Before and after the visit: Junko Tadaki (+41 22 917 9298 / jtadaki@ohchr.org) or Frédérique Bourque (+41 22 917 9946 / fbourque@ohchr.org), or write to ieforeigndebt@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)