MINELRES: EC/Eurostat: Seminar "Statistics & Human Rights", Brussels, 27.-29.11.2002

MINELRES moderator minelres@lists.delfi.lv
Thu Feb 27 10:51:58 2003

Original sender: Alan Phillips <aphillips@gmx.net>

                                        ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL 



The Seminar on Statistics and Human Rights, which took place in Brussels
between November 27th and 29th, was considered to be a success.  More
than 90 participants from multilateral and international organisations,
Non Governmental Organisations  (NGOs), academic institutions and
national government departments attended this Seminar with
representatives coming from Western and Central Europe, African
countries, the Mediterranean region, North America and Asia. 

Experts dealing with Human Rights, Democracy and Good Governance from
different perspectives including lawyers, statisticians, sociologists
had been deliberately brought together to enhance the dialogue between
these communities and cross the boundaries of specialisation.  

The Seminar focussed on statistical measurement of Democracy, Good
Governance and Human Rights including data collection, methodological
issues and techniques and possibilities and limitations of statistics. 
It was constructed in plenary and four Workshop sessions running in
parallel so that specific methodological and technical issues could be
properly addressed for each of the domains selected. 

The plenary sessions dealt with conceptual approaches and challenges of
monitoring and the Workshops focussed on on-going initiatives and case
studies in the selected domains of Civil and Political Rights, Economic,
social and Cultural Rights, Groups facing particular Vulnerability and
Democracy, Good Governance and Rule of Law. 

The Seminar brought increased knowledge of conceptual and practical work
undertaken in this field.  The Workshops also showed that a wide range
of case studies exist at national and international levels covering both
quantitative and qualitative approaches, although many related problems
still exist in terms of data gaps, defective data, aggregation problems
and other methodological problems.  Each Workshop group summarised its
conclusions tackling the three key questions of WHY? WHAT? HOW? to
measure and WHO? should be involved in this process. The key issues
discussed in the Workshops are provided below in box 1.     

As a general recommendation, the Seminar stressed the importance of
extending co-operation between statistical offices and non-governmental
to examine more closely the role to be played by official statistics in
the realm of human rights and the availability of data published by
NGOs. In this context, it was also suggested to investigate which
specific human rights dimensions could be more easily integrated into
official statistics. In some areas such as health statistics, statistics
on education, labour force statistics and statistics on poverty and
social exclusion, a stronger consideration of the human rights
perspective was recommended.  
Box 1: Key issues discussed during the Workshops

- Measurement and data collection efforts should allow disaggregation to
the greatest extent possible 
- There should be open and transparent procedures for the production of
- Long term investment from the donor community is needed in order to
produce reliable, valid, and scientifically respectable measures
- Rights measurement should be divided along the dimensions of rights in
principle, in practice and policy outcome
- There is a need to have both input, process and outcome indicators 
- The development of core human rights indicators should be supported by
- Public awareness campaigns are needed on human rights and measurement
- Measures of human rights should be universal and applicable to all
countries whatever their level of development and mechanisms should
therefore be developed to ensure the reliability, consistency and
comparability of these measures
- There is a need for a Governance/Human Rights Millennium Development
Goal (MDG)
- There is a need for Statistical Offices to regularly measure the
progress towards the International Development Goals and disaggregate
socio-economic data by vulnerable groups, gender and age 
- Programmes should be developed locally to disseminate information and
promote understanding and ownership of the international human rights
standards for vulnerable groups
- Civil society should enter into dialogue with NSOs and government to
encourage them to collect relevant economic, social and cultural data on
vulnerable groups in an appropriate manner
- Civil society should be encouraged and supported by governments and
donors to undertake quantitative and qualitative studies that may be
used to develop new policies and programmes for women, children,
minorities, disabled and other groups   
- Progress can be made by giving more attention to analysing existing
data from the rights perspective rather than exclusively developing new
- Incorporation of governance questions into household surveys should be
- Additional cross-country data collection should be encouraged
- Interactive networks of international and national experts should be
- Framework and indicators for comprehensive Human Rights assessments
should be encouraged

The participants also put forward two main approaches of human rights
measurement during the Seminar, which could be seen as complementary. 
The necessity to further clarify concepts and frameworks based on a
global and comprehensive human rights approach was recommended as one
alternative. The other was to start starting specific activities in
selected fields with a view to establishing proposals for an overall
measurement framework.  

After the year of 2002, which was a year of Seminars and Workshops in
the fields of Democracy, Good Governance and Human Rights, the focus of
Eurostat for the future lies in the elaboration of an EC Co-operation
Policy User Handbook on Good Governance in close collaboration with
relevant Commission Services and in the newly created PARIS 21 Task Team
on Tools and Methods, which will include human rights measurement as
part of its mandate.   

>From the MINELRES moderator: Full report on the seminar (580 Kb
zip-archived .pdf file) will be sent to interested subscribers by