Human rights monitoring is a unique activity that is separate from monitoring and evaluation, as well as from research. Human rights monitoring seeks to gather information about the human rights situation in a country or region over time through readily available methods, with the goal of engaging in advocacy to address human rights violations. It also involves a process of documenting human rights violations and practices so that the information can be categorized, verified, and used effectively. Human rights monitoring is sometimes called fact-finding. Fact-finding consists of investigating a specific incident or allegation of human rights violations, collecting or finding a set of facts that proves or disproves that the incident occurred and how it occurred, and verifying allegations or rumors.
Human rights monitoring should be based on principles of:
Although monitoring human rights of women should be a state responsibility, monitoring by community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations can also produce an important perspective. Informal justice systems themselves should also take on the role of self-monitoring and reviewing how they impact women’s safety and human rights.
Efforts to monitor human rights in the informal sector are few, but emerging.
Example: in Timor Leste, the Judicial System Monitoring Program interacts with chief’s suco councils. Reports from this monitoring programme have been used to institute reforms and to increase the number of women elected to community governance bodies, including the informal judicial body. In Bangladesh, Ain O Salish Kendra helps train local committees, sometimes all women, to monitor shalish proceedings and conduct informal education on women’s rights for those involved in the proceedings
Sources: Wojkowska/UNDP, 2006; Australian Agency for International Development, 2008.
Additional resources on human rights monitoring include:
Documenting Human Rights Violations by State Agents: Sexual Violence (Amnesty International and International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, 1999). Available in English.
Documenting the Implementation of Domestic Violence Laws: A Human Rights Monitoring Methodology (The Advocates for Human Rights, 2011). Available in English.
A Practitioner’s Guide to Human Rights Monitoring, Documentation, and Advocacy (The Advocates for Human Rights, 2010). Available in English.
Events Standard Formats – A Tool for Documenting Human Rights Violations (HURIDOCS 2010). Available in English.
New Tactics – Documenting Violations: Choosing the Right Approach (Center for Victims of Torture, 2009). Available in English.
Familiar Tools, Emerging Issues: Adapting traditional human rights monitoring to emerging issues (Prestholdt, 2004). Available in English.
Ukweli: Monitoring and Documenting Human Rights Violations in Africa (Amnesty International and CODESRIA 2000). Available in English.
Next Topic CEDAW and monitoring informal mechanisms