Skip to Content

Seminar: New Horizons in Economic and Social Rights Monitoring

Introduction Agenda Presenters Papers and Presentations The OPERA Framework

Center for Economic and Social Rights
Hotel Tryp Ambassador, Madrid - 22 and 23 March 2012
Third Annual Meeting of Metrics for Human Rights and Development



8:30 - 9:00: Registration and coffee

9:00 - 9:30: Welcome, introductions and aims of the meeting

The organizers will make introductory remarks about the purpose of the meeting, explaining the special focus on methods for monitoring the fulfillment of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights and the rationale behind the agenda. Their comments will help frame discussion over the two days.

9:30 - 11:15: Session 1: TAKING STOCK: Progress and challenges for ESC rights monitoring

These presentations will give an analytical overview of the state of the field and current challenges in ESC rights monitoring from the perspective of human rights practitioners working in different spheres. The session will identify the main trends and developments in ESCR monitoring over the last decade, the current challenges posed by the external environment and the most significant gaps in strategy/capacity that human rights and development advocates
need to confront in this area.

Chair: Rebecca Brown (ESCR-Net)

  • Eibe Riedel (UN CESCR), Taking stock of advances in treaty body monitoring
  • Christian Courtis (OHCHR), Surveying the field of ESC rights monitoring: an OHCHR perspective
  • Radhika Balakrishnan (CWGL), Economics & Rights: interdisciplinary monitoring approaches
  • Rajat Khosla (AI), Reflections on AI??s ESC rights monitoring a decade after Dakar
  • Elijah Odhiambo (Hakijamii), Methodological challenges in ESCR monitoring in complex environments

11.15-11.30: Break

11.30-13:00: Session 2. TAKING STOCK: Lessons learnt from litigation

ESC rights litigation in jurisdictions across the globe has brought greater conceptual clarity to the normative content of these rights, seeking to elucidate the meaning of complex principles such as ???progressive realization according to maximum available resources???. Litigation is a critical arena for methodological innovation and for the application of tools to operationalize these principles. This session will take stock of methodological advances and challenges in building evidence of ESC rights violations, particularly breaches of positive obligations, as well as methods to measure the impact of ESC rights adjudication.

Chair: Sandra Ratjen (ICJ)

  • Bruce Porter (SRAC), Evidentiary challenges in ESC rights adjudication, domestic & international
  • Jackie Dugard (SERI), Adjudicating ??progressive realization?? in the South African context
  • Mart??n Sigal (ACIJ), Combining quantitative and qualitative evidentiary methods: a practical case study
  • Malcolm Langford (NCHR), The Judgment Watch Monitoring Tool 

13:00-14:15: Lunch

14:15-16:00: Session 3. METHODS IN FOCUS: Rights-based indicators

Indicators are an important tool for monitoring ESC rights fulfillment. Quantitative indicators are particularly necessary to assess public policies in light of concepts such as progressive realization, minimum essential levels and non-discrimination. The development of indicators has been a burgeoning field in recent years. While much of this work has focused on specific rights, OHCHR has developed an indicator framework applicable across the range of rights. This session will also explore a number of indicator sets on specific rights, and will distill the lessons learnt from their application in particular contexts, including the Millennium Development Goals.

Chair: Claire Methven (DIHR)

  • Grace Sanico (OHCHR), The OHCHR indicators framework
  • Simone Cecchini (CEPAL), Indicators to monitor investment in social protection
  • Bailey Grey (RTE Project), Lessons learned in applying right to education indicators
  • Inga Winkler (GIHR), Towards rights-based MDG indicators for water & sanitation
  • Justin Simeone (NYU), Quantifying Vulnerability to Sexual Violence in Haiti???s IDP Camps

16:00-16:30: Break

16:30-18:15: Session 4. METHODS IN FOCUS: Rights-based budget and cost analysis

The design and implementation of methods for assessing the resource dimension of the obligation to fulfill (the use of maximum available resources) is one of the most advanced areas in economic and social rights monitoring. This session will take stock of the lessons learnt in the applied use of rights-based budget analysis in different settings. This session will also include innovative quantitative methods for costing the impact of economic and social rights violations.

Chair: Gilbert Onyango (East African Center for Human Rights)

  • Ann Blyberg (IHRIP/IBP), State of play in applied budget monitoring
  • Aoife Nolan (U of Durham), Budget monitoring from an ESCR perspective: lessons learnt from practical application
  • Anugula Reddy (NUEPA), Financing the right to education: evidence from India
  • Alexandre Ciconello (INESC), Insights gained from INESC??s budget and human rights methodology
  • Joseph Schechla (HIC-HLRN), Counting costs: Quantifying the effects of forced eviction and displacement

18:15 ??? 18:30: Wrap up - end of day one

19:30: Tapas reception


9:00 ??? 9:15: Introduction to day two

9:15 ??? 11:00: Session 5. FRAMING FULFILMENT: Quantitative monitoring of progressive realization

This session explores innovative quantitative methods for evaluating states' overall compliance with the obligation to progressively fulfill ESC rights taking into account their resources. It will include analysis of findings and insights gained from the development of an index to measure state economic and social rights performance, as well as the experience of monitoring MDG and human rights compliance using indicators of states??? expenditure and revenue.

Chair: Nicholas Lusiani (CESR)

  • Sakiko Fukuda-Parr (New School), Evaluating state performance to improve human well-being by the metric of human rights
  • Susan Randolph (University of Connecticut), Crafting policy regimes that advance ESCR: evidence from a multivariate analysis
  • Terra Lawson-Rehmer (New School), Using GDP as proxy for resources
  • Edward Anderson and Malcolm Langford (UEA and NCHR), Monitoring MDG compliance on water and sanitation using Maximum Available Resources

11:00: Break

11:30-12:45: Session 6. FRAMING FULFILMENT: The OPERA framework

In practice, rights-based policy monitoring requires a comprehensive,
multidimensional approach to assessing ESCR fulfillment, integrating quantitative and qualitative methods within a broader analytical framework. In this session, CESR???s OPERA framework will be introduced, as an overarching assessment framework within which multiple measurement methodologies can be integrated. The lessons learnt from applying the monitoring framework in concrete settings will be shared, and feedback sought from participants on how the framework could be further developed and applied.

Chair: Ignacio Saiz (CESR)

  • Allison Corkery (CESR), OPERA: A framework for integrating quantitative and qualitative tools to monitor the obligation to fulfil ESCR
  • Sally Anne Way (CESR/University of Essex), Operationalizing OPERA: lessons learnt from practical application
  • Feedback from discussants and other participants

13:00: Lunch

14:30-16:00: Session 7. NEW HORIZONS: Opportunities ahead

The purpose of this session is to provide participants with a space for reflecting on the various approaches and strands of work explored in the previous sessions, and how these can be more effectively deployed to confront the key accountability gaps of our time. It aims to stimulate a discussion on critical next steps in the theory and practice of ESCR monitoring, taking into account opportunities and challenges presented by the current global context.

Simultaneous break-out groups ??? themes to be confirmed.

  1. Monitoring ESC rights in times of economic crisis and recession
    Introductory presentation: Ros Mackenna (AI Ireland)
  2. Rights-based metrics and the post-2015 development agenda
    Introductory presentation: Joachim Nahem (UNDP)
  3. Monitoring in the context of the ICESCR Optional Protocol mechanism
    Introductory presentation: Sandra Ratjen (ICJ)

16:00-16:15: Break

16:15-17:00: Session 7 Report Back

17:00-17.45: Session 8. NEW HORIZONS: Weaving threads together

Concluding remarks drawing on the array of presentations demonstrating how monitoring can be used to bring about effective policy change, enhance enforcement and accountability, and most crucially, improve people??s lives. Organizers and participants will reflect upon the opportunities these experiences offer to break down disciplinary silos and advance quantitative and qualitative monitoring methods & frameworks as powerful tools for human rights advocacy.