Expert Roundtable Discusses Role of Local and Regional Governments in data collection for National Mechanisms

29 April 2024

On April 18, 2024, the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) and the Department of Legal Studies at the University of Bologna, supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, hosted the Expert Roundtable on Data Planning and Collection by National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting, and Follow-up (NMIRFs), in Bologna, Italy.

Dr Domenico Zipoli, Project Coordinator of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, travelled to Bologna to co-host this event, which focused on the integration of local and regional governments (LRGs) and national statistical systems in NMIRF-led data collection efforts, with NMIRF delegates from Italy, Portugal, Paraguay and Morocco in attendance. Also present were representatives from Italian local and regional governments, the Italian National Statistics Office, the OHCHR, think tanks, academia and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) working on the link between LRGs, National Statistical Offices (NSOs) and NMIRFs.

This event is part of a larger multilateral initiative under the scope of Human Rights Council resolution 51/33, propelled by Paraguay and Brazil in 2022. This resolution encourages States to establish or strengthen NMIRFs for further compliance with human rights obligations and commitments and to share good practices and experiences in their use for the elaboration of public policies and plans, at all levels, with a human rights approach.

Strategies and best practices shared

The aim was to explore best practices and challenges of NMIRFs’ data planning and collection through their consultation capacity, including with LRGs and national statistical systems. The four NMIRFs and the several LRG experts represented at the Roundtable shared their strategies in this specific space. For example, the Italian Inter-ministerial Committee for Human Rights (CIDU) illustrated the successful integration of data insights from the Italian National Office of Statistics and the two umbrella bodies representing LRGs within CIDU, the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) and the Conference State - Regions. These efforts are crucial as they demonstrate meaningful NSOs and local and regional involvement in human rights processes, aligning with broader goals such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set for 2030.

During the roundtable, the following central themes were explored:

  1. Data Planning and Collection as Decision-Making Tools: NMIRFs are increasingly relying on data not merely as figures but as essential tools for informed decision-making, ensuring accurate monitoring and strategic implementation of human rights policies. This session highlighted the necessity of tailored data collection to meet specific human rights objectives, including the implementation of international human rights obligations.
  2. Disaggregating data is essential for obtaining an accurate understanding and making correct political decisions. Although LRGs can develop their own tools for data collection and analysis—as exemplified by the region of Emilia-Romagna with its new tool Amartya—it is crucial for central governments to consider the need to disaggregate data by sex, gender, and other factors, while also respecting privacy requirements.
  3. Enhancing Transparency and Public Awareness: The roundtable stressed the importance of data in promoting transparency and accountability. Accessible and clear data collection practices not only build public trust but also enhance the government's accountability in upholding human rights standards. Furthermore, spreading knowledge about human rights standards and issues, including through data, at all levels, helps foster a more informed and proactive public.
  4. Coordination and Collaboration in Data Collection: Effective data management requires robust coordination between various stakeholders, including government bodies, international organizations, and local authorities. The discussions emphasized the role of digital technologies in enhancing data collection efficiency and fostering global partnerships. In this regard, the use of digital human rights tracking tools and databases may be one solution to simplify data sharing between NMIRFs, NSOs and LRGs.
  5. Role of academia: The role of academia is key in shaping a common language and aligning positions between those more familiar with SDGs (usually LRGs) and central government policies on human rights, taking into account international standards in both areas. This will enhance future implementation practices. As we address these issues, academia can facilitate collaboration among all stakeholders through research and by hosting policy dialogues, helping to develop a shared vocabulary.

Outcomes and Role of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Dr Zipoli explained, ‘The insights gathered from this roundtable will be reflected in an upcoming statement, including the Roundtable’s main takeaways, with the aim to inform upcoming NMIRF institutionalization processes. Notably these will be reported during the Second International Seminar on NMIRFs (Asunción, Paraguay, May 2024) as well as the 2024 Glion Human Rights Dialogue (Marrakech, Morocco, October 2024) and ultimately contribute to the continuation of the discussions in the Human Rights Council.’

He continued ‘By serving as a forum for sharing best practices and addressing challenges in human rights data management, the Bologna Expert Roundtable participants contributed substantially to the ongoing discourse on improving human rights mechanisms globally. This ensures that all levels of government are involved, and that each level has the tools needed to advance human rights implementation and reporting effectively.’

Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, added, ‘Initiatives such as this lie at the core of the GHRP’s mandate, working on connectivity between different levels of human rights governance. This event is just the latest activity to address issues concerning the local implementation of global human rights, whether by improving national human rights strategies or through digital human rights solutions.’

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