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9 OECD Journal on Development, Volume 9 Issue 2

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

image of OECD Journal on Development, Volume 9 Issue 2
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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On the Road to Montreux and Beyond

The feasibility and relevance of measuring human rights, democracy and governance have long been controversial both in the human rights community and in the international statistical family. Within the human rights community, the term “indicator” has had two distinct - and somewhat contrasting - meanings: while for some it designated, in the strict statistical sense, quantitative synthetic information based on robust data (Türk, 1990; Alston, 1998), for many others it designated a qualitative synthetic overview based on extensive sets of questions or “checklists” related to key human rights dimensions (Green, 2001). The latter meaning has deeply marked the approach to human rights assessments that has prevailed within the UN system and among most human rights leading experts during the last decades.

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