Guatemala has ratified the following documents:
  • Additional (San Salvador) Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • American Convention on Human Rights
  • Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
  • Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
  • Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
  • International Covenant Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
The following documents further define the obligations of Guatemala:
  • Beijing +5: Further Actions and Initiatives to Implement the Beijing Platform for Action
  • Beijing Platform for Action
  • Cairo Programme of Action
  • UN Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) Declaration of Commitment
  • Universal Declaration of Human Rights
The documents listed above require Guatemala to protect and promote the following rights:

Right to development
Right to education
Right to equal protection of the law
Right to freedom from inhuman or degrading treatment
Right to highest attainable standard of physical and mental health
Right to housing
Right to just and favorable work conditions
Right to liberty and security of the person
Right to life and survival
Right to marry and found a family
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of age
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of disability (i.e. HIV positive)
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of marital status
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of race and ethnicity
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sex and gender
Right to non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation
Right to private and family life
Right to receive and impart information
Right to the benefits of scientific progress

Constitutional Protection of Rights

The Constitution of Guatemala can be viewed at http://www.georgetown.edu/pdba/Constitutions/Guate/guate93.html

The Constitution of Guatemala is an important tool for the protection and promotion of human rights. It enables Guatemala to translate international agreements into domestic law, and obliges all branches of government to respect and ensure the rights it enunciates. Specifically, it expressly enunciates the superiority of international human rights conventions on the internal law of Guatemala (art. 46).

The Constitution provides for the protection of the following rights, among others. This empowers individuals in making reproductive health decisions, and helps create the economic and social conditions conducive to good sexual and reproductive health.

Right to dignity (art. 4)
Right to decide freely the number and spacing of one's children (art. 47)
Right to education (art. 71)
Right to equality before the laws (art. 4)
Right to equality between spouses (art. 47)
Right to equal pay for equal work (art. 102.c)
Right to freedom of association (art. 34)
Right to freedom of movement (art. 26)
Right to health (art. 93)
Right to just and favorable work conditions (art. 102)
Right to liberty and security (art. 3)
Right to life (art. 3)
Right to own private property (art. 39)
Right to petition the government to address grievances (art. 28)
Right to receive and impart information (art. 35)
Right to social security (art. 100)
Right to work (art. 43, art. 101)

The Constitution includes other provisions that promote and protect rights relevant for good sexual and reproductive health.

The Constitution specifically states men and women are equal in rights and responsibilities (art. 4).

Several principles require Guatemala to take explicit steps to ensure public health. The Constitution obliges Guatemala to:

  • provide social, economical and legal protection to the family (art. 47)
  • protect the health of minors and seniors (art. 51)
  • establish institutions and initiatives of promotion, prevention, recovery, rehabilitation and coordination in order to achieve physical, mental and social well-being. (art. 94)
  • control the quality of all products that may affect health (art. 95)
  • establish programs of primary health care (art. 95)
  • improve the living conditions of vulnerable communities (art. 95)
  • improve the standard of living of its population and the well-being of the family (art. 119.d)
The Constitution also grants communities a right and a duty to participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of health programs (art. 98), and imposes a duty on all persons to protect public health (art. 95).

Several provisions of the Constitution are particularly relevant for the empowerment of women and the improvement of their social status:

  • at home, by providing for the rights to equality between spouses and to decide freely the number and spacing of one's children (art. 47)
  • at work, by protecting of pregnant women against work that would endanger their health, and by granting women the right to paid maternity leave and to additional days during lactation (art. 102.k)
In addition, the Constitution expressly requires Guatemala to protect motherhood in accordance to human rights and obligations (art. 52).

Finally, the Constitution states that the list of rights enunciated is not exhaustive, and that rights that are not enumerated but that are inherent to the human person can also be protected (art. 44).

What does that entail? Even if other rights protected under international law are not listed in the Constitution, it is possible to use this provision as an argument that those rights uphold policy initiatives improving sexual and reproductive health. This provision also grants an argument against policymakers if they assert that they are not constitutionally required to take measures to protect rights, even if such rights are relevant to sexual and reproductive health. However, it is possible that this provision is mainly intended to enable broader interpretation of laws in a court context. For more information or additional research, please click on the link "learn more about a specific reproductive health and human rights topic" or contact the Human Rights Working Group.