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Human Rights, Development, and Economic Growth – Metrics, New Ways of Thinking, and New Strategies
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  1. Human Rights, Development, and Economic Growth – Metrics, New Ways of Thinking, and New Strategies HRDI|Elizabeth Eagen

  2. The Human Rights Data Initiative • Rebuilding information infrastructure • Extending the use of human rights information • Supporting evidence-based policymaking initiatives

  3. challenges and opportunities in human rights practice with data • Deep shifts global institutional arrangements and information technology • New ways to use information • Performance indicators and flow of aid – a lever and a problem • Engaging the domestic population on controversial ideas • Posing and proposing new questions on the role of empirical data

  4. Calls to action, or a major caveat? • “the majority of trafficking statistics are developed by NGOs and agencies for the purpose of advocacy rather than the result of serious research… Furthermore, I have found that many NGOs – overstretched and underfunded (particularly in developing countries) – are untrained in research and believe that it diverts them from their primary tasks of advocacy or delivery of social services.” (p 64) • Ivan Krastev: “the most important effect was the public conviction that it was possible to compare levels in certain countries and to monitor the rise of corruption in any one individual country.” (p267) • Sex, Drugs and Body Counts, Andras/Greenhill

  5. Kelly Greenhill’s numbers test • What is/are the source of the numbers? • What definitions is/are the source(s) employing – for example, who is a combatant? What constitutes a combat-related death? Who is a refugee? And thus what exactly is being measured? • What are the interests of those providing the numbers? What do these actors stand to gain or lose if the statistics in question are (or are not) embraced or accepted? • What methodologies were employed in acquiring the numbers? • Do potentially competing figures exist, and, if so, what do we know about their sources, measurements, and methodologies? (sex, drugs and body counts, p 158)

  6. Caveats from NGOs • Statistical Caveats: • Underlying data is almost never representative • Indices have a range, that gets compressed at the margins • Events are not homogenous and can’t be equated • Source NGO Caveats: • A gaming system • Distortion of the movement • The pressure to produce • Why those indicators, and not these? • Comparisons inconsistent with reality, and create shorthanded discussion

  7. Takeaways from the field, and what are we good at? • The pressure to produce numbers is real • The payoff is quick: quantifying the unquantifiable can draw rapid attention. Is it the right attention? • Organizations shouldn’t be in the business of producing or collecting statistics if they’re not set up for it • Numbers urge us to do something. What we need to do is replace that urgency generator with something else • what are HROs really good at? They’re good at data depth… they’re good at the long-tail of evidence. • Rather than #s in a formula, HR advocates and the human rights information and perspective is great at the planning stage of research and policy advocacy Sex, Drugs and Body Counts – The Politics of Numbers in Global Crime and Conflict

  8. Questions