Uruguay – UPR Submission 2024

Universal Periodic Review of Uruguay – Fourth cycle
46a Session (April 29 – May 10, 2024)


Edmund Rice International (ERI) is a non-governmental organization in consultative status with ECOSOC since 2012, committed to the defense and promotion of human rights. ERI works worldwide, in collaboration with other civil society organizations, on causes involving the violation of the rights of children and youth, as well as environmental care. Some of the tasks of ERI in Uruguay are related to the awareness and dissemination of human rights at the educational level, the implementation of activities aimed at the recognition of situations of vulnerability and to promote, through joint work with civil society organizations, the improvement of the quality of life of people.

Marist Foundation for International Solidarity (FMSI) is an international organization promoted by the Marist Brothers of the Schools, present in 80 countries. FMSI has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of international solidarity, supporting the promotion and defense of children’s rights around the world, especially in the field of education. It works at the international level, participating in the mechanisms of the United Nations and in collaboration with other organizations with similar interests. Since 2011 it has been accredited by ECOSOC.

Defensoría Edmund Rice (DER) is a non-governmental organization established in 2018 with presence in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Uruguay. Its main tasks are the protection and promotion of human rights and eco-justice through education and participation at the national and international level in human rights protection mechanisms. DER is part of the Edmund Rice International network of organizations.

The report is the result of a process of dialogue and exchange between civil society organizations promoted by the National Association of Development-Oriented Non-Governmental Organizations (ANONG), with the support of the European Union and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in South America, through the project “Civil Society Promoting Human Rights and Strengthening Democracy: Universal Periodic Review of Uruguay, 2024”.

1. The aforementioned organizations respectfully submit the following contributions and recommendations on the human rights situation in Uruguay, in order to contribute to the evaluation of the Universal Periodic Review working group during its 33rd session. We value the work carried out by the different agencies of the Uruguayan State in the framework of the promotion and guarantee of Human Rights. However, we express our concern about some situations that are still pending resolution. For this reason we make this contribution.

2. We focus on addressing situations that affect the adolescent population with fewer resources, with whom we are directly linked, whose access to quality education is affected, because their right to food is not guaranteed, nor is access to mental health prevention, in state educational institutions at the secondary level, which they attend daily, as it is in primary school and university.

3. In the 2019 review Uruguay received and accepted specific recommendations related to access to education focused on reducing the dropout rate 118.112, 118.115,118.117,118.119, 118.120,118.121,118.225

4. In the mid-term report, the Uruguayan State states that the National Plan for Early Childhood, Childhood and Adolescence 2015-2020 has been continued, but a new plan has not been developed, although it is said that INAU (Uruguayan Institute for Children and Adolescents) is developing guidelines for the new five-year plan, it has not yet been developed. The implementation of INAU’s Specialized Interventions Program, which addresses situations of vulnerable children and adolescents, is also proposed, but its lines of action make no reference to food. Regarding school dropout, the mid-term report makes no specific reference to the issue of food, nor to mental health prevention, as an element to prevent dropout, especially in adolescents.

5. In view of the above, we understand that it is NECESSARY for the Uruguayan State to evaluate compliance with the recommendations received in the previous cycle, focusing on the impact that the violation of the right to food and access to mental health have on adolescents, linked to the formal education system, and the impact that these deficiencies generate in school dropout increased in the post-pandemic period6.

TOPIC: Integrating nutrition and mental health care for adolescents into the educational system to guarantee the right to the minimum necessary conditions for learning.

6. From 2019 to 2021 in Uruguay poverty has increased. In the middle of the pandemic, the economy stagnated and unemployment increased . According to the National Institute of Statistics went from 8.8% of the population under the monetary poverty line in 2019, to 11.6% in 2020, reducing to 10.6% in 2021. Looking at the incidence of poverty by age group, this situation worsened in children and adolescents between 6 and 17 years old, practically doubling the figures (6 to 12 years old 19.4%, 13 to 17 years old 18.8%).

7. On the other hand, in the year 2022, the report of the National Institute for Educational Evaluation (INEED) , verifies the impact of the pandemic on the school trajectories of adolescents. It also reaffirms that school absences are higher in vulnerable contexts and concludes that the attendance and the link between adolescents and the educational system show the need for actions to guarantee it.

8. Likewise, the report concludes that “Aristas” in its 2022 report, points out the need to articulate public policies to support the situation of adolescents from disadvantaged contexts, but as this situation has been going on for a long time, the measures to be taken go beyond the purely pedagogical and educational.

9. For all these reasons, we consider that the adolescent school population in Uruguay does not have sufficient coverage in terms of food and mental health prevention within the educational system to which they belong, which generates the violation of rights that also affect quality education. .


10. “In the population studied, adolescents who are mostly enrolled in school but do not have food coverage within the educational system they belong to, there is a violation of the right to adequate food” . Given that the school canteen system operates in primary education, but not in secondary education, where the system does not provide neither budget, nor time, nor place to receive quality food (they often work with canteen scholarships, in high schools where there is a canteen and often depending on individual good will) in many cases the food also reaches some homes through private individuals. Although there is a law that provides for the promotion of healthy eating habits in the child and adolescent population, , it does not say anything about the specific food assistance to adolescents.

11. ANEP (National Administration of Public Education) establishes that middle school students (12 to 18 years old) must go to the nearest school canteen, which is often not possible because there is none, or when it is possible, it puts the adolescent in a complex psychological and emotional situation, since he/she must return to school to eat. In addition to this, the number of places is limited and a selection must be made in order to have access to the dining room. Although the “María Espínola Centers”, where adolescent students receive three meals a day, began to be developed in 2021, so far there are only a few centers throughout the country (43 out of a total of 494 educational institutions that serve adolescents in the country).  The evaluation of these centers confirms the importance of providing, institutionally, basic elements to favor learning.

12. The National System of Canteens under the Ministry of Social Development expresses very succinctly on its website its general objective “to provide food assistance to people in situations of social disadvantage, through a free service aimed at the population with socioeconomic vulnerability.” but does not specify any action specifically aimed at adolescents, although it is true that in the National Guide to Social Resources of the same ministry, in the National Canteen System section, it appears as a document to be submitted to use the service “letter from educational institution if applicable” . This does not specify anything about the issue of feeding adolescents, and also limits it to the scope of national canteens where mainly adults in very vulnerable situations attend.

13. In relation to the scarce information expressed in the previous item we must point out, that it is notorious the difficulty to access information on the subject, the adolescent food system. Regarding the work of the Special Commission on the Right to Food of the Legislative Branch, said commission has only met eight times, since its entry into operation on 05/12/2021 and it is not possible to find any resolution, matter under study or reports prepared by the same regarding the subject in question. This situation is reinforced by what is stated in the first Report on Food Insecurity of the Ministry of Social Development, “So far the country has no official national statistics on the prevalence of food insecurity. There are only reports of various studies conducted in specific populations, which show that food insecurity is a relevant problem, of long standing and with a greater impact on households with children and adolescents”.

14. The report for UNICEF Uruguay on feeding during the Covid 19 pandemic in Uruguay, La alimentación de niños, niñas y adolescentes durante la pandemia de COVID-19 en Uruguay, published in June 2021, states that “The coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has caused major health and social effects on a global scale. These will have repercussions on the health and well-being of children and adolescents. In particular, confinement, reduced household income, and the disruption of face-to-face activities in educational institutions have led to changes in the diets of this population.”

In view of the foregoing, we request the Uruguayan State:

15: Extend the school canteen feeding system to secondary education (12 to 18 years of age), since this is the sector of the population that is least served, or poorly served. Since the school canteen system serves the population between 4 and 12 years of age, and the University Welfare Division is expected to serve university canteens of the University of the Republic, which state educational institution serves the right to food of the adolescent population?

16. Address the recommendation of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (118.119) of the UPR 2019, which recommended maintaining the scholarship and bursary system in the formal education system to prevent school dropout.

17. Identify and measure the impact of the pandemic on the right to food and mental health care on school continuity, which have not yet been measured and therefore the implementation of solutions is delayed.


18. We have taken into account the recommendations of Spain (118.216), Ghana (118.217) and Brazil (118.218) regarding mental health care for vulnerable populations, especially focused on children and adolescents in the school system.

19.  We take into consideration the data on mental health provided by the WHO, especially in relation to behaviors that affect the physical and emotional integrity of adolescents.  The Uruguayan state has carried out awareness campaigns on this issue, however, we understand that it is necessary to strengthen preventive and promotional actions.  Educational institutions are the space par excellence for this approach, since this is where adolescents meet on a daily basis.

20. The regulations on Mental Health in Uruguay define interinstitutionality as the approach to mental health, considering the integral elements that influence a person’s mental health, such as access to housing, labor insertion, educational and cultural inclusion. The same regulation states that “the care process should preferably be carried out in the community setting, in coordination from that setting to higher levels of complexity when necessary. This care will be carried out within the framework of an interdisciplinary and intersectorial approach and will be oriented to the promotion, reinforcement and restitution of social ties.”

21.   In the National Mental Health Plan 2020-2027 , the need to promote healthy life habits and strengthen the main psychosocial resources in the population of all ages with emphasis on children and adolescents (NNA) is stated.  Among its Strategic Lines, it considers coordinating the articulation between the health and educational systems to generate adequate and pertinent actions in relation to the mental health of children and adolescents.   It also proposes “Promoting mental health in the adolescent population and preventing mental disorders at this stage of development” and envisages “generating community, sports, recreational and cultural spaces adapted to the needs of the adolescent population”.

22.  According to the INNED 2022 report, cited above, the results of the second application of Aristas Media evidence the importance of improving educational policies and articulating with other social policies focused on the most disadvantaged sectors. Although the socioeconomic and cultural composition of the school population in October does not show differences between 2018 and 2022, a complexization of the situation has been observed, especially that of centers from more disadvantaged contexts. The idea of “complexification of the situation” is due to the interaction between different factors: the increase in risky behaviors, the decrease in intra- and interpersonal skills, the increase in the perception of insecurity in the centers, and the increase in inequality in performance.l

In view of the foregoing, we request the Uruguayan State:

23. In accordance with Portugal’s recommendation (118.113) Reorganize the budget allocated to education, taking into account the need to implement the creation of permanent multidisciplinary teams composed of psychologists, psychopedagogists, social workers and nutritionists on a full-time basis in educational institutions, especially in secondary schools (12 to 18 years old).

24. We urge the Uruguayan State to immediately implement the National Mental Health Plan in all its dimensions, emphasizing prevention and promotion in adolescents, working intensively in the territory where adolescents live with their peers.

25. Generate spaces for the training of educators, families and adult referents in prevention and detection of situations that may compromise the integral health of adolescents.

1 “The contraction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 5.9% in 2020 concluded with a process of labor “stagnation” and “deterioration”, increasing the unemployment rate from 8.9% in 2019 to 10.4% in 2020, with differential impacts according to the sector of economic activity, affecting women, young people and people with lower qualifications to a greater extent (Amarante, Bucheli, Scalese, 2021 in Informe Final de la investigación “Situación de seguridad alimentaria y nutricional en hogares con adolescentes en los barrios Bella Italia y Punta Rieles de la ciudad de Montevideo” presented by Observatorio del Derecho a la Alimentación de la Escuela de Nutrición de la Universidad de la República (UDELAR) available at https://www.nutricion.edu.uy/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Situacion-de-SAN-en-adolescentes-de-Bella-Italia-y-Punta-Rieles-1.pdf
2 (INE, 2019, 2020, 2021)
3 Instituto Nacional de Evaluación Educativa, Aristas, (2022) Informe de Resultados de Tercero de Educación Media. Executive Summary. retrieved from https://www.ineed.edu.uy/images/Aristas/Publicaciones/Aristas2022/Aristas-2022-Resumen-ejecutivo.pdf [pdf].

4 INEE (2022)
5 Observatory (2021)
6 Observatory (2021)
7 National Administration of Public Education, National Directorate of Initial and Primary Education, School Feeding Program (PAE) https://www.dgeip.edu.uy/finalidad-del-pae/
8 https://www.dges.edu.uy/comunicacion/noticias/liceo-ndeg-21-abrazo-monzon-cerca-comunidad
9 Law 19.140, 11/10/2013 https://www.impo.com.uy/bases/leyes/19140-2013
10 Franco, F. ( June 4, 2022) Increase of hungry students worries teachers and social collectives, who organize to cover the insufficient response of the State, la diaria, Montevideo.
11 Administración Nacional de Eduación Pública, Dirección General de Enseñanza Secundaria, recovering at https://www.ces.edu.uy/index.php/liceos/34212-primer-ano-de-implementacion-de-los-centros-educativos-maria-espinola.
12 Ministry of Social Development, (March 29, 2023) retrieved at https://www.gub.uy/ministerio-desarrollo-social/node/9810#:~:text=El%20Sistema%20Nacional%20de%20Comedores,nutricional%20de%20la%20poblaci%20poblaci%20C3%B3n%20adulta.
13 Ministry of Social Development, National Guide to Social Resources, retrieved at https://guiaderecursos.mides.gub.uy/30486/sistema-nacional-de-comedores.
14 Parliament of Uruguay, General Assembly, Special Commission on the Right to Food recovered in https://parlamento.gub.uy/camarasycomisiones/asambleageneral/comisiones/1214
15 Ministry of Development and Social Security, (October 2022) First National Report on Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Households, [pdf] retrieved from https://www.gub.uy/ministerio-desarrollo-social/comunicacion/publicaciones/primer-informe-nacional-prevalencia-inseguridad-alimentaria-hogares-2022.
16 UNCEF Uruguay (2021, June) La alimentación de niños, niñas y adolescentes durante la pandemia de COVID-19 en Uruguay, [pdf] retrievedhttps://www.unicef.org/uruguay/media/5561/file/La%20alimentaci%C3%B3n%20de%20ni%C3%B1os,%20ni%C3%B1as%20y%20adolescentes%20durante%20la%20pandemia%20de%20COVID-19%20en%20Uruguay.pdf.
17 Ministerio de Salud Pública Uruguay, June 2022, Objetivos Nacionales 2023 Caracterización problemas priorizados Incidencia de suicidio, retrieved https://www.gub.uy/ministerio-salud-publica/sites/ministerio-salud-publica/files/2022-06/FINAL%20Incidencia%20de%20suicidios.pdf [pdf].
18 Ley 19529, 19/09/2017 https://www.gub.uy/ministerio-salud-publica/sites/ministerio-salud-publica/files/2022-01/Res%201165%202021.pdf
19 Idem law 19529, p
20 Ministry of Public Health, n.d., National Mental Health Plan 2020-2027, retrieved at https://www.psicologos.org.uy/Plan_Nacional_Salud_Mental.pdf.
21 Idem, p. 43