Measuring Human Rights: U.N. Indicators in Critical Perspective
GOVERNANCE BY INDICATORS: GLOBAL POWER THROUGH QUANTIFICATION AND RANKINGS, Davis et al, eds., 2011
Posted: 25 Aug 2011
Date Written: July 30, 2011
This chapter examines the use of indicators by U.N. bodies charged with monitoring State compliance with human rights treaties. The authors argue that although the use of quantitative indicators tends to disguise some of the core problems that are inherent in the indicators project as technical ones of measurement and data availability, many of the same problems would still be present even if quantitative indicators were banished from human rights assessment projects. The authors caution, however that human rights compliance indicators may threaten space for democratic engagement by purporting to turn exercises of judgment into ones of solely technical measurement. For this reason, they argue, it is all the more essential that human rights advocates not eschew engaging in debates about indicators, since doing so provides new opportunities to use the language of science and objectivity as a powerful tool for holding governments to account.
Keywords: human rights, metrics and indicators, United Nations
JEL Classification: L33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation