©Jorge Mejia Peralta

UN must renew critical protection mechanism on Nicaragua

International and local Nicaraguan civil society organisations are calling for the renewal of key United Nations human rights protection mechanism on Nicaragua.

UPDATE: We did it! The Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua (GHREN) for two additional years, strengthening its focus on Indigenous and Afrodescendant Peoples, reprisals, and political prisoners. 

Read more about this campaign win

We believe in an open, equal, and democratic Nicaragua. A Nicaragua in which the human rights of all people are guaranteed without distinction, and where those who raise their voices against abuses are protected. A country in which truth and justice are guaranteed without exception, especially for those groups who have been historically discriminated against.

This is not currently possible in Nicaragua. Since April 2018, the government has criminalised, arbitrarily detained, tortured, disappeared, and even killed, those who promote human rights and who question the government’s actions, including indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples defending their ancestral territory. It has also adopted a series of laws restricting freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association, further closing space for civil society to push for positive change.

Recognising this crisis, the UN, through its Human Rights Council, has taken action by adopting resolution 46/2 in March 2021, calling on the Government of Nicaragua to adopt a series of urgent measures to resolve this multi-pronged human rights crisis. 

In March 2022, following a campaign led by Collectivo 46/2, including the International Service for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council created a Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua through resolution 49/3 mandated to investigate alleged human rights violations in the country since April 2018. 

It is now time to renew the Group’s mandate.

Play video Joint NGO statement calling for the two-year renewal of UN HRC resolution on Nicaragua

Joint NGO statement calling for the two-year renewal of UN HRC resolution on Nicaragua


Who are Colectivo 46/2?

Colectivo 46/2  is a coalition of Nicaragua, regional and international NGOs, including ISHR. The coalition has been monitoring the implementation of Human Rights Council resolutions on Nicaragua since 2021. The Colectivo has produced a series of Evaluation Benchmarks to assess the degree to which Nicaragua has implemented recommendations made by the Human Rights Council in its prior resolution on the matter (46/2). 

The Benchmarks assess government action – or inaction – against a series of clear objectives, drawing on public information from the United Nations and Inter-American human rights systems, as well as independent civil society and media reports.

The coalition also published an Evaluation Benchmark assessing the implementation of the latest HRC Resolution on Nicaragua (49/3), which contains findings that should alarm the international community and lead it to demand compliance by the Government of Nicaragua with its international obligations. Findings include:

  • An absolute lack of cooperation from the State of Nicaragua with human rights protection bodies;
  • Ongoing brutal repression of individuals and groups exercising their fundamental human rights and of civic space in general;
  • Continuing deterioration of the human rights situation since the crackdown on protests in April 2018.

More information on Colectivo 46/2

What do we want?

Together with Colectivo 46/2, ISHR is calling on:

  • The Human Rights Council to renew for a period of two years its resolution on the human rights situation in Nicaragua, that establishes the mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua, and the monitoring and reporting mandate of the OHCHR, at its 52nd session in March 2023;
  • All Council Members to support such a resolution and reinforce its intersectional approach, by bringing particular attention to the situation of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, migrants and forcibly displaced persons, those detained for political reasons and the families of victims.

How do we achieve this?

  • We conduct research, demonstrate that Resolutions 46/2 and 49/3 have not been implemented and that the UN must continue the mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua. Since the adoption of the resolutions, we have sought to provide objective monitoring of government action – and inaction – to implement the resolutions’ recommendations. 
  • We convince countries sitting at the UN Human Rights Council that the mandate of the international accountability mechanism on Nicaragua must continue. We are advocating, meeting with and writing to Human Rights Council members and calling on them to support our call.
  • We make sure our voice is heard out and loud. We speak with the media and make sure they replicate our calls and key messages. We also relay them on social media and with a larger group of civil society allies.

What can you do? 

Nicaragua needs justice and truth to get out of this crisis and recover as a society. Share this campaign page and raise awareness with a journalist you know, your peers, or on social media, with the hashtags #MecanismoParaNicaragua and #SOSNicaragua.

Tweet to support the campaign

Statments delivered during Human Rights Council 52nd session

#HRC52: joint statement on the renewal of the UN resolution on Nicaragua, delivered by Olga Valle of Urnas Abiertas on behalf of ISHR, Urnas Abiertas and the Colectivo 46/2 coalition calling for the renewal of UN human rights resolution on Nicaragua. It was delivered during the interactive dialogue on the oral update of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Nicaragua, at the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council.



Renewal of the UN Human Rights Council resolution on Nicaragua: Questions and Answers

We urge the Human Rights Council to renew for two years its resolution on the situation of human rights in Nicaragua, which establishes the mandates for investigation by the Group of Experts on Human Rights in Nicaragua (GHREN) and monitoring by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

  • The resolution should renew for two years both terms of office. Thus, between April 2023 and March 2025:
    • GHREN would submit two written reports to the HRC (March sessions) and two oral updates on its progress (September sessions).
    • OHCHR would submit two written reports to the HRC (September sessions) and six oral updates (March and June sessions, and in December outside of HRC sessions).
  • The resolution should consolidate OHCHR’s thematic monitoring focus on the situation of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, migrants, stateless and forcibly displaced persons, sexual and gender-based violence, and the promotion and protection of economic, social and cultural rights.
  • The resolution should strengthen the financial, human and logistical capacities of the GHREN, to enable its immediate operationalization.

The Human Rights Council usually renews its country resolutions for one-year periods, in order to be able to reassess volatile national contexts on an annual basis. However, the resolution on Nicaragua should be renewed for two years, for the following reasons:

  • The continued deterioration of the human rights situation in Nicaragua since 2018, manifested by the flight of at least 4% of the country’s population since April 2018, and by all actions taken by the Government that are contrary to all the recommendations of the HRC resolutions on Nicaragua, documented by the 46/2 Collective.
  • The Government’s refusal to adopt measures to implement any of the recommendations issued since 2018 by the resolutions of the HRC, the OHCHR, UN treaty bodies, the Working Groups, and Special Rapporteurs and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
    • In its report to the HRC, the OHCHR highlights: “The human rights situation in Nicaragua has progressively deteriorated since 2018 without the Government having shown political will to address the crisis through dialogue and the implementation of recommendations made by human rights mechanisms.”
  • The continued and assumed international isolation of the Government of Nicaragua, manifested through:
    • the expulsion from the presences of the OHCHR and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in 2018, and the head of mission of the International Committee of the Red Cross in 2022;
    • the refusal to heed its binding obligations under international human rights treaties and submit to reviews by five UN committees (treaty bodies), to accept a confidential visit by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and the sending of a recriminatory letter to the Committee against Torture, leading to an unprecedented public condemnation by both committees against torture;
    • acts of reprisals against at least 7 civil society representatives for cooperating with the UN, including the current Nicaraguan member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), Anexa Alfred Cuningham;
    • the rejection of any criticism by UN bodies, and attacks on those bodies.
  • The need to ensure temporal continuity in the work of the GHREN, in light of the breadth of the mandate of detailed investigation of gross human rights violations, identification of perpetrators, and collection of evidence, with which it has to comply. The annual renewal of the resolution has budgetary and administrative implications that slow down the operationalization of the mandate for several months, hindering the implementation of the GHREN’s mandate.
  • Precedent: Venezuela, SR Cambodia
  • The two-year renewal of both the GHREN and OHCHR mandates does not prevent the HRC from responding to sudden and structural changes in Nicaragua during the same period, through resolutions, declarations, and other instruments at its disposal.
  • There are precedents of country resolutions renewed for two years, after a specific assessment of each national situation under scrutiny, as was the case with the Fact-Finding Mission on Venezuela and the Special Rapporteur on Cambodia.

Indigenous peoples and afro-descendants:

  • The systematic acts of violence committed by armed groups against Miskitu and Mayangna indigenous communities in the Caribbean coastal Regions of Nicaragua and in the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve, for defending their land and territory (Sources: Committee Against Torture, paragraphs 29-30; Special Rapporteurs).
  • The imposition of parallel governments to supplant the authorities of communities legitimately elected by them (Source: Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, paragraph
  • Nicaragua should ensure that broad and substantive consultations are carried out with indigenous and Afro-descendant peoples on matters relating to their rights, in particular their right to free, prior and informed consent, and also in cases of granting permits for development projects that may affect their land rights, and to ensure in practice the right of indigenous peoples to the lands and territories they have traditionally owned or occupied, through the necessary legal recognition and legal protection, as well as through the implementation of the territorial regulation of territories already demarcated and titled (Source: Human Rights Committee, paragraphs 41-42).


Arbitrary detentions and persecution of political detainees:

  • Arbitrary arrests of the relatives of members of opposition political parties and political prisoners in order to coerce them to surrender (Source: OHCHR).
  • The banishment of 222 political prisoners on February 9, 2023, and their subsequent expulsion from Nicaraguan territory to the United States of America.
  • The modification of some provisions of the Penal Code that impose life sentences contradicting the maximum sentence of thirty years established by the Political Constitution of Nicaragua, and of the Code of Criminal Procedure that extends preventive detention from 48 hours to three months (Source: IACHR-MESENI; press).
  • The General Law for the Regulation and Control of Non-Profit Organizations (Law 1115) which allowed the closure of more than 3,000 civil society organizations (Source: Human Rights Committee, paragraph 25; High Commissioner for Human Rights; Special Rapporteurships).
  • Unconstitutional practices such as the recent reforms of sentences in which political prisoners are condemned to the accessory penalty of perpetual disqualification from holding public office.



  • The expeditious reform of Article 21 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua allowing the arbitrary stripping of Nicaraguan nationality from at least 317 persons, in contravention of the State’s obligations under the 1954 and 1961 Conventions on stateless persons.
  • The importance of consolidating migration policies based on dignified reception in accordance with international standards.


Gender Violence:

  • The increase in the number of femicides and other acts of sexual and gender violence in the country, the growing physical and psychological vulnerability of women, who have been deprived of effective complaint mechanisms and the support of civil society organizations, whose legal personality was cancelled, in the care of victims of violence, particularly indigenous women and girls who are victims of threats and violence by armed settlers for exercising their rights and defending their land and territory. (Source: OHCHR report; Human Rights Committee, paragraphs 17-18; Committee Against Torture, paragraph 16; Special Rapporteurs).
  • Nicaragua must allow women’s rights organizations to continue their work.


Cooperation with international bodies:

  • Nicaragua refused to participate in its review by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2021, as well as by the Human Rights Committee, the Committee against Torture, and the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2022. Nicaragua refused to accept a confidential visit by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture, and sent a derogatory letter to the Chair of the Committee against Torture on June 30, 2022.
  • Nicaragua should cooperate constructively in its future review by the CEDAW Committee in May 2023.
  • Nicaragua should cooperate with the IACHR, and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, including through the implementation of provisional and precautionary measures issued by both bodies.



  • The UN Secretary-General has reported at least 7 cases of reprisals against Nicaraguan activists for cooperating with the UN since May 2020. In September 2022, Anexa Alfred Cunningham, UN independent expert and EMRIP member, was denied entry to Nicaragua, banishing her from her country in forced exile, in retaliation for her collaboration with the UN and her previous work as an indigenous leader and woman human rights defender within the country.
  • Nicaragua must guarantee the safe return of Anexa Alfred Cunningham and all persons and citizens who have been denied this right, including the 222 political prisoners expelled from Nicaragua on February 9, 2023, without fear of further reprisals, intimidation or attacks.

The GHREN is an international UN investigative and accountability mechanism established for an initial period of one year by the UN Human Rights Council through its resolution 49/3 in March 2022.

The GHREN is mandated to:

  • Thoroughly investigate all alleged human rights violations and abuses committed in Nicaragua since April 2018, including their possible gender dimensions, and their structural root causes;
  • Gather, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of such violations;
  • If possible, identify those responsible, and make such information accessible and usable in current and future accountability initiatives;
  • Collaborate with the Government of Nicaragua, OHCHR, international human rights organizations, relevant United Nations agencies and civil society to exchange information, and support national, regional and international efforts to promote accountability for human rights violations and abuses in Nicaragua.

The GHREN is not a judicial body and its findings are not legally binding, but inform the international community in an impartial manner, and constitute evidence for future justice and accountability processes.

The GHREN is composed of three independent experts appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council: Jan-Michael Simon (Chair of the GHREN), Angela Buitrago, and Alexander Alvarez (stepped down).


In March 2021, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 46/2 calling on the government of Nicaragua to adopt a series of emergency measures to resolve the multidimensional human rights crisis in the country

HRC Resolution 46/2

In 2022, ISHR, together with Colectivo 46/2 campaigned for a more assertive response from the HRC through the establishment of an international mechanism that ensures justice and accountability for Nicaragua.

Campaign page

In March 2022, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 49/3 which created the ‘Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua’ and in which it urged the Nicaraguan government to cooperate with a range of UN bodies, including the newly created Group of Experts. This group is mandated to investigate alleged human rights violations and abuses committed in Nicaragua since April 2018 and make recommendations to relevant stakeholders.

HRC Resolution 49/3

On 15 December 2022, ISHR, together with the Colectivo 46/2 coalition issued a global call for the strengthening and two-years renewal of resolution 49/3 at the Council’s 52nd session in March 2023.

More information

Additional ressources