Evaluation and impact assessment in human rights

What tools and methods? What pros and cons?

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2015 was declared the “international year of evaluation”. Human rights organisations face a difficult dilemma with regards to evaluation and impact assessment of their work. Although it is required and demanded by most donors, existing tools and methods are mostly unfit for human rights work. Challenges are plentiful: positive results in human rights normally relate to social change, for which linear and causal relationships provide no suitable explanations. Attribution of results to specific interventions is problematic, and human rights change is difficult to measure. In this debate, we explore some of the different tools and methods used for evaluating human rights, the pros and cons of how rights work is evaluated, as well as the budding methods and opportunities in this relatively unexplored field.

Collaborating Editor: Vincent Plotondirector of UN treaty body advocacy at the International Service for Human Rights


How can human rights impact assessments contribute to responsible business conduct?

By: Nora Götzmann
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It's time to ask important questions about the integrity of human rights impact assessments and their application.

Assessment tools can strengthen social movements by bringing activists together

By: PeiYao Chen & Natalia Karbowska
Español | Français | العربية | Русский | Українська

A new measurement tool helps social movement actors identify where they are progressing and where they can improve—but what comes after the assessment is the most ...

Earning the trust of human rights supporters

By: James Ron

Human rights groups have lost—or never gained—the trust of roughly half their (potentially) strongest supporters.

Business lessons for human rights: borrowing evidence-based practices

By: Bill Mawby & Theresa Harris

The human rights field could learn a lot from evidence-based practices developed in business and medicine.

Human rights evaluation—who is it really for?

By: Claire Thomas

The human rights community should embrace evaluation not for our donors, but for our beneficiaries.

Can rights organizations use low-burden self-reflection for evaluation?

By: Brian Root 
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Human Rights Watch generally avoids burdensome evaluations; instead, we’re looking for “light and agile” reflections on our work.

When evaluating human rights progress, focus also on the journey

By: Emma Naughton & Kevin Kelpin
Español | Français | العربية

Yes, human rights work must be measured, but we need to focus on the small steps as well as the “big picture.”

Human rights and results-based management: adopting from a different world

By: Vincent Ploton
Español | Français

Human rights groups are understandably reluctant to use “results-based management”, but embracing this approach can boost their impact.

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