As human rights advocates and practitioners, we are surrounded by examples that demonstrate the critical role of monitoring in ensuring that human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Now, at the beginning of a new year, we wanted to take stock of progress made to-date with ESCR-Net’s Monitoring Working Group and where we’d like to head in 2015. We are eager to hear what others think about these questions, whether Steering Committee members, subscribers to our mailing list or visitors to the group’s dedicated website.
2014 was a year of growth for the working group. Subscribers to the group’s mailing list have more than doubled in size; a diverse mix of activists, advocates and academics, from all over the world, are visiting the group’s website regularly. In 2015, we are planning to formalize membership of the Working Group for ESCR-Net members, in order to foster ongoing communication and exchange, encourage more interactive mutual learning and facilitate collective work around monitoring. We are keen to hear from others about how Working Group members could become more involved in the group’s activities, to continue to advance the sharing of tools, resources and strategies.
A key feature of the website has been our monthly discussions. Each month, a different author writes a blog on a monitoring-related issue. They then moderate a week-long discussion about the blog, starting the first Wednesday of the month. The issues we covered in 2014 were diverse and included different:
- Topics: such as housing, education and women’s rights.
- Tools: including some of the conceptual and practical challenges of using indexes, budget analysis, and litigation as a means of obtaining data.
- Processes: such as monitoring the implementation of court decisions, of national human rights actions plans, and of international development commitments, and
- Mechanisms: we discussed how NGOs can participate in monitoring by United Nations treaty bodies, as well as in mechanisms established by local and national governments.
Our plan is to continue with the monthly discussions in 2015, presuming interest remains in doing so. Some Steering Committee members have proposed that these discussions be more coherent in the topics that they cover. For example, we may identify a theme for each quarter and then delve into it in more depth by exploring particular dimensions of it each month. If there is interest in this approach, we would love to hear suggestions for possible themes, as well as proposals for authors of specific posts.
The Group’s website has been the primary platform for coordinating information-sharing. Users have become more familiar with the site and have been using it regularly. Feedback about the site has highlighted its clarity and the usefulness of the resources and featured projects on it. Nevertheless, we are constantly looking for ways to improve its relevance and utility. To that end, it would be terrific to hear what others find works well and what could be improved about the site’s features such as the Resource Library, News Blog and Featured Projects.
With the leadership of Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR), as well as the other members of the Steering Committee, the Monitoring Working Group aims to enable human rights activists and advocates to share tools and resources and to foster international collaboration around issues of common interest—across linguistic, disciplinary and geographical borders. How else could this Working Group advance its stated goals and serve as a valuable resource for the human rights community? What more could we do to promote participation by a diverse group of organizations and individuals? The ideas shared in this month’s online discussion will serve to inform the direction of this promising area of work, in the period ahead. Please add your comments below!