Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, ICCO works with Indigenous Peoples from the Atlantic region, supporting their advocacy efforts to defend their territories. It has also strengthened youth, women and LGBTI organizations through regional programs that promote respect for human rights.

Regional Office Latin America

  • Av. Fuerza Naval No. 1238 entre calles 19 y 20 - Calacoto
    La Paz, Bolivia

  • +59 122773877
Send us an email
  • 20-25% average poverty level
  • 6 projects
  • 4.757.606 people

General Information

Costa Rica has only experienced two violent periods in its history: a military dictatorship (1917-1919) and a 44 days civil war (1948). After the latter, the national army was abolished and the country has had continuous democratic governments, becoming the most stable nation in Central America.

However, according “Latino - Bar√≥metro”, Costa Rica has reported a sustained drop in citizen support for its democratic system.  During the first part of the 2000 decade, the country had several corruption scandals that involved three ex-presidents. This has contributed to the weakening of the predominant bipartisan system.  In 2007, there was an important political polarizing wave, which confronted social movements around acceptance and rejection of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States. This was solved democratically by organizing the first referendum in Costa Rica’s history, which resulted in 51.62% of the population in favor of the commercial agreement.

Specialists have pointed towards an existing governability crisis, as a result of an institutional rule that no longer adjusts to the nation´s current realities. Poverty levels have averaged 20-25%, even when social investment to end poverty has increased. Costa Rica has historically been defined by a vast and thriving middle class, but it´s now the only Latin American nation to increase its Gini Coefficient during the last decade.  Extreme poverty has shown a rising tendency since 2010, growing from 5.8% to 7.2%. Alongside an upturn in drug trafficking, crimes related to this illicit activity have also risen, together with murder rates (10 murders for each 10,000 people) that are catalogued as epidemic by the World Health Organization

Costa Rica has reported violence outbreaks against Indigenous Peoples working to recover their ancestral territories, which have been taken by private companies and farmers. This has led to the Inter American Commission for Human Rights to impose precautionary measures against Costa Rica in favor of the Teribe and Bribri Indigenous Peoples.

Themes in Costa Rica

  • Inclusive Markets
  • Food security
  • CSR


ICCO supports the Bribri Indigenous Peoples in their continuous struggle to govern their ancestral territories. Through our Peoples, Territories and Climate program, and through our collaboration with the Mesoamerican Alliance for Peoples and Forests, we strengthen their management models and promote an overall economic empowerment. With the Dutch Human Rights Fund for Central America, which ICCO managed from 2013 until 2015, we strengthened the LGBTI community as well as a coalition of young organized defenders by supporting initiatives to promote respect for their rights. 

Our projects in Costa Rica

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