Wrap-up: May 2014 Discussion
Thank you to everyone who participated in May's discussion on Integrating Rights Monitoring Into the Policy Cycle. The significance of Mexico City's efforts to integrate a rights-based approach into the public policy cycle through its Federal District Human Rights Program (PDHDF) was a recurrent theme throughout the discussion. Many interesting questions were raised surrounding the mechanisms set up to monitor and evaluate the program; the participation of civil society and the public in such mechanisms; and how such mechanisms address the rights of different population groups.
As Fundar explained, there are several instruments and procedures for overseeing the implementation of the PDHDF. First, the PDHDF Law provides that all public institutions—such as the executive, legislature, and judicial bodies—must monitor their compliance with their rights obligations. Second, PDHDF’s principal body is its Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, made up of public authorities, civil society organizations, and academic institutions. This Committee coordinates participation in decision-making processes and periodically reports on the implementation of the program. Third, there are 24 ‘spaces’ that facilitate public participation in the implementation and monitoring of the PDHDF. These ‘spaces’ act as thematic clusters and are served by a secretariat. They are divided by the priority areas (e.g. democracy and human rights, justice, human security) and population groups (e.g. children, young people, people with disability) identified in the PDHDF.
Several comments touched on the challenges of ensuring that oversight of rights-based policy making is effective, especially when it is still in the early stages. Past experience tells us there is often a lack of participation by civil servants, decision-makers and even civil society groups, Fundar flagged. The non-binding nature of the Committee’s recommendations, its lack of independence from government, and the limited institutional capacity of the secretariat also present challenges to effective change. A number of questions also asked about ways to disseminate information about the PDHDF to the local-level, to ensure the community can interact with its various monitoring mechanisms.