9 OECD Journal on Development, Volume 9 Issue 2

Measuring Human Rights and Democratic Governance: Experiences and Lessons from Metagora

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On the occasion of the 60 anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this special issue of the OECD Journal on Development focuses on robust methods and tools for assessing human rights, democracy and governance. These findings of the Metagora project formulate a response to these questions.

Metagora is the first international project on measuring human rights and democratic governance to undertake several pilot experiences in different regions of the world in an interactive fashion. This publication presents key results, policy relevance and methodological implications of these experiences. It illustrates the feasibility and usefulness of measuring human rights and democratic governance with combined quantitative and qualitative approaches. It provides decision makers, policy actors, analysts and civil society with first-hand materials and selected examples on how statistics and indicators can be created and used in this field.

This publication also presents a wealth of global lessons from the Metagora experiences. These include the need for involving a wide range of institutions and actors -- such as human rights institutions, research centres, national statistical offices and civil society organisations -- in the measurement and assessment processes. Metagora’s findings and lessons constitute a substantive and innovative contribution which usefully complements ongoing work by leading international organisations on governance and human rights indicators.

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Candidate Indicators for Monitoring the Right to Education

There has been increasing awareness in recent years that the development of indicators is central to effectively monitoring human rights, particularly economic, social, and cultural rights, and evaluating the performance of countries in implementing these rights. Effectivemonitoring requires the systematic collection and analysis of appropriate data. To determine which data are relevant, it is first necessary to translate the abstract legal norms in which various human rights are framed into operational standards. This process involves conceptualising specific enumerated rights, for example the right to education, and developing standards by which to measure implementation and identify violations of state obligations. These standards or indicators can then provide yardsticks to assess compliance. Human rights indicators offer a tool for the following: making better policies and monitoring progress; identifying the unintended impacts of laws, policies and practices; determining which actors are having an impact on the realisation or non-realisation of rights; revealing whether the obligations of these actors are being met; giving early warning of potential violations so as to enable prompt preventive action; enhancing social consensus on difficult trade-offs required in the face of resource constraints; and exposing issues that had been neglected or silenced (UNDP, 2000, p.89).

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