Challenges and Possibilities Arising in the Development of Human Rights Indicators for State Reporting

University essay from Lunds universitet/Juridiska institutionen

Abstract: HR indicators are increasingly used as a method for analysis in the work with human rights. However, the concept of HR indicators is often subject to confusion due to the lack of a common and universal theoretical framework. This study focuses on the elaboration of HR indicators for state reporting within the UN treaty monitoring bodies and argues that an extended and more coherent use of HR indicators could enhance the clarity, transparency and objectivity of the state reporting procedure. Moreover, the use of similar indicators for civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights alike would demonstrate the universality and interrelatedness of all human rights. Through an exemplifying study, where sets of indicators are developed for the right to freedom from torture and the right to the highest attainable standard of health, challenges and possibilities arising in the elaboration process are identified and analysed. The development of indicators is a complex task, as several aspects need to be considered in the drafting process. First, theoretical aspects of indicators have to be analysed and state obligations has to be conceptualised. In this regard, a number of choices should be made. How is an HR indicator defined? What kinds of HR indicators should be used? How should they be structured? What sources should be used in the identification of state obligations? In addition, due regard needs to be paid to the future use of the indicators in practice. Is requested data available? Are the created indicators logical and understandable? How should obtained data be processed and analysed? Without providing any final answers to these questions, different options and suggestions are discussed. The analysis concludes that the already on-going research should be strengthened and that pilot tests are needed if a coherent indicators approach is to be institutionalised within state reporting. In particular, an agreement as to the theoretical framework of HR indicators will be necessary.

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