The discussion focused on the challenges inherent in designing and executing new monitoring projects. Two important questions asked were: How do you decide what issues to focus on when you’re starting a new monitoring activity? And how do you develop your approach to these issues? We identified a number of tools and approaches to address these questions. These included: defining the problem; developing an “evidence based” monitoring strategy; linking monitoring to advocacy; and fostering ownership. Many Working Group members commented that the OPERA Framework is another useful tool that can be utilized by ESCR monitoring groups to also address these questions. Other members questioned how ESCR monitoring activities address community needs. Will duty bearers react to increased pressure generated by monitoring activities? Many variables determine this answer, but using a power map was one suggested tool which can assist in linking monitoring to advocacy.
Alejandro from PODER gave an example of how his organization executed an ESCR monitoring project with strong community ownership. In implementing Mexico’s first community-led Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) in the extractive sector, PODER relied heavily on the affected or potentially affected community to decide on which issues to focus and to take an active lead in planning, implementing and following-up in the project. In order for the community to take ownership of the project, PODER conducted a series of capacity-building workshops to expand community members’ knowledge of the international human rights system. Community members took ownership of these workshops, as well, and decided what they learned and how they learned.
Angella, from the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights (ISER), presented a challenge common to many ESCR monitoring projects: working with technical experts and politicians. Political figures may attempt to control certain aspects of monitoring work – a venue or content, for example – in order to promote a political agenda, as they did in Angella’s example. Even seemingly small details of monitoring activities, such as the location of an event, may be subject to political desires and, therefore, affect monitoring projects.
Ensuring meaningful, and not tokenistic, community participation in ESCR monitoring projects is another issue common to ESCR monitoring activities. This important issue will be addressed in our August Monthly Discussion.