Strengthening Governance and Human Rights in Central America

Project completed
Natural Resources Governance Dialogue
Natural Resources Governance Dialogue ©FDFA

The program strengthens the capacities and the presence of the Inter-American Human Rights System in Central America in order to ensure the follow-up on court judgements and recommendations, to educate employees of the justice sector, to report on the Human Rights situation and to strengthen the protection of Human Rights defenders. The program further promotes dialogue on natural resource management among governments, the private sector, indigenous peoples, and Afro-descendants.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Central America
Conflict & fragility
Human rights
Conflict prevention
Anti-corruption organisations
Legal and judicial development
Public sector policy
Human rights (incl. Women's rights)
01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022
CHF  4’655’000

Institutional fragility, concentration of power, corruption, violence, and lack of employment increase despair, migration, political and social conflict, as well as systematic violations of human rights in the countries of the Northern Triangle and Nicaragua. Repression and criminalization of those who defend rights and participate in social protests constitute the main challenges in the defense and protection of human rights in these countries. Weak governance of the use of natural resources in indigenous and Afro-descendant (IAD) territories is also a source of conflict, criminalization and human rights violations, with a high social and economic cost.

Given this background, the consolidated presence and action of the Inter-American Human Rights System (IAHRS) in the sub-region is key because it contributes to generating conditions and strategies with States and civil society (CS) that enable compliance with recommendations, measures, and sentences and strengthen protective mechanisms for human rights defenders. The IAHRS has standards and jurisprudence for the protection of the environment, natural resources and the rights of IAD peoples. The 4 countries have regulations and are subscribers to international commitments on these topics. Representatives of the private sector and IAD peoples, in spite of differences and asymmetries in power relations, recognize the need to look for spaces to come together and meet to address conflict over the use of natural resources.


To help improve the respect for and protection of human rights and good governance of the use of natural resources, particularly in territories of the indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants of Central America.


Effect 1: The Inter-American Human Rights System monitors and reports on the situation of Human Rights, follows up on recommendations and measures for the protection of human rights with special emphasis on human rights defenders, men and women of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants in Northern Triangle countries and Nicaragua.


Effect 2. Representatives of government, private sector, civil society, indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants of the Northern Triangle countries and Nicaragua, initiate a process of preparation for dialogue, establish coordination mechanisms, prioritize a thematic agenda and agree on first agreements around the governance of natural resources.

Target groups

Direct beneficiaries:

Direct beneficiaries: Courts of justice, prosecutors, procurators, Secretaries of Human Rights, Secretaries of Environment and Natural Resources, networks of IAD peoples organizations, and business organizations.


 Indirect beneficiaries:

Indirect beneficiaries: Men and women, youth, human rights defenders, men and women of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants.


Expected results:  

Effect 1:i) Recommendations to States to address the situation of human rights of populations in vulnerable conditions with emphasis on IAD peoples, women and young people issued. ii) Protective measures and mechanisms for human rights defenders in the Northern Triangle activated. iii) Follow-up of recommendations from reports on the situation of human rights in the Northern Triangle and Nicaragua through mechanisms that integrate authorities, CSO and the private sector. iv) Training processes for the protection of human rights defenders arranged and implemented with the States. v) Monitoring of the Judgment Compliance Monitoring Plan of the San José Court. vi) Alliances with various social actors consolidated and the human rights situation in the Northern Triangle and Nicaragua made visible.  vii) Improvements in access to justice, a process developed for strategic litigation, and monitoring compliance with sentences related to the protection of human rights defenders and vulnerable groups.

Effect 2: i) A strategy for training and development of trust to prepare the conditions for dialogue among representatives of governments, the private sector and indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants. ii) Regional and national mechanism for dialogue established and functioning. iii) Initial agreements reached with regard to governance of natural resources in indigenous and Afro-descendant territories.

Results from previous phases:  

The program has contributed to closer contact of the IAHRS with authorities and civil society of the sub-region in the systematization of recommendations, and preliminary steps on mechanisms for monitoring its recommendations. The situation of violations of human rights in Nicaragua and in the countries of the Northern Triangle has been visibilized. More than 400 requests for precautionary measures and provisional measures of protection for defenders and participants in public protests have been evaluated.

The program has facilitated high-level dialogues between the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) and justice authorities. It has institutionalized training courses for judges, prosecutors, attorneys and public defenders in the sub-region.

The Inter-American Human Rights Court increased its capacity to supervise sentences, issued decisions to stop reforms to amnesty laws, developed compliance hearings and established measures for monitoring judgments. 

The program has generated strategic information about conflict in ancestral territories. It has facilitated consultation with representatives of IAD peoples, the private sector/business owners, and natural resource and environment authorities of the 4 countries in order to understand the conditions, concerns and expectations of each sector and favor a process of encounters and inclusive dialogue that can improve the governance of the use of natural resources.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
International or foreign NGO
Other International Organization
  • Other OI

Coordination with other projects and actors Human rights organizations, private enterprise, IAD peoples, women's organizations, OHCHR
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    4’655’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    3’616’815
Project phases

Phase 2 01.10.2019 - 30.09.2022   (Completed)

Phase 1 05.07.2018 - 31.12.2019   (Completed)