Frequently Asked Questions on human rights indicators of the CRPD

Contents

1. What is the OHCHR methodology for developing human rights indicators?.

2. What do indicators help to assess? What are their limits and how is it possible to overcome those limits?

3. Who should use these indicators?

4. How can the indicators be used in reporting processes to human rights treaty bodies and other processes to review CRPD compliance?

5. How do CRPD human rights indicators address cross-cutting issues?

6. Do human rights indicators take into account the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals?

7. Can the indicators be used for monitoring of the SDGs?

8. Where can the data be found to populate the indicators?

9. What if the data does not exist?

10. Why are data collection and disaggregation by “disability” key for the indicators?

11. Do indicators provide guidance on data collection and disaggregation methods?

12. Do indicators assess the compliance with the obligation to closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of legislation and policies that concern them?

13. What is a “mainstream” policy/program? What is a “disability-specific” policy/program?

14. Do Indicators apply to “all levels and branches of governments”?.

15. How to interpret the indicator on “number of complaints”?



1. What is the OHCHR methodology for developing human rights indicators?

The indicators’ primary objective is to guide States on actions and measures to be taken in implementing the CRPD and facilitating assessment of this progress.  It also serves as a tool for other stakeholders (NHRIs, civil society, international cooperation agencies, donors, etc.) to monitor the State’s progress in implementation. 

As such, OHCHR’s human rights indicators seek to measure commitments and efforts by States to meet their human rights obligations, as well as the results in ensuring the enjoyment of human rights.

OHCHR’s methodology for human rights indicators is based on international human rights standards as enshrined in the core treaties as well as developed through general comments of UN treaty bodies. 
The methodology recognises the interdependence and indivisibility of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights and reflects cross-cutting human rights norms, such as non-discrimination and equality, participation and accountability.  It identifies universally applicable indicators which can be further adapted to specific local contexts. 

The indicators do not intend to serve as a global measure for cross-country comparison.

Development of human rights indicators:

OHCHR’s methodology requires a two-step approach:

  • identifying the attributes of the human right; and
  • developing structural, process and outcome indicators.

1) Attributes of a human right

The attributes are the core elements of a right.

By nature, human rights are interdependent and interlinked- standards overlap across rights. It is important to transcribe the narrative of a human right into a limited number of characteristics or attributes of that right, which are ideally mutually exclusive. As such, the attributes provide a snapshot of the specific right which distinguish it from other rights.

Identifying attributes entails providing a clear and more “tangible” categorization of the right, to facilitate the development of indicators which will correspond to the different facets of the right.  In this way, the link is made between the normative framework and the indicators.

For instance, the attributes identified for Article 24 of the CRPD on inclusive education, which cover all dimensions of the right and serve to better categorise and develop indicators, are:

  • Inclusive education system   
  • Quality and free primary and secondary education
  • Access to tertiary, vocational training and lifelong learning 
  • Inclusive teaching

2) Structural, process and outcome indicators

Structural indicators measure the acceptance, intent and commitment to human rights.

They reflect enactment of legal instruments and the adoption of policies for the implementation of human rights.

E.g.  Legislation enacted that ensures inclusive education for all students, including those with disabilities in public and private settings across all levels of education (Indicator 24.1)

Process indicators measure efforts to transform commitments into desired results.

These indicators assess policies and measures taken to implement commitments on the ground.

E.g.  Percentage of schools with adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities (indicator 24.12)
Budget allocated for ensuring the right of persons with disabilities to inclusive education in regular settings, as compared to budget allocated to segregated/separated education settings, either in regular or special schools (Indicator 24.30)

Outcome indicators measure the results of efforts to further human rights.

Outcome indicators capture results that reflect the level of enjoyment of human rights in a given context.  An outcome indicator consolidates over time the impact of the efforts and measures taken to implement commitments.

E.g.  Rates of persons with disabilities relating to: enrolment, attendance, promotion rate by grade, completion, drop out and out of school in regular primary, secondary, tertiary educational institutions, vocational training, lifelong learning courses, as compared to others, disaggregated by sex, age, disability and grade and level of education (indicator 24.33)

For more information on OHCHR’s methodology on human rights indicators, please consult Human Rights Indicators: A Guide to Measurement and Implementation, 2012 (including examples of tables of human rights indicators from pages 88 to 101.  These indicators are not specific to the CRPD)


2. What do indicators help to assess? What are their limits and how is it possible to overcome those limits?

Human rights indicators are a tool for tracking progress in the realisation of rights and can contribute to identifying gaps in implementation. They provide prescriptive guidance on the core elements of the right and how to ensure their implementation. While they must be sufficiently comprehensive to appropriately reflect the rights standards, they must also be limited in number to ensure feasibility and usability by States and stakeholders.

Indicators are meant to provide an indication on the implementation of a particular right and identify gaps in implementation. 

First, gathering data at a given moment will not on its own provide an indication of progress of implementation.  Many of the indicators will require ongoing monitoring and collection of data over time to track progress.

That said, numbers and their movement over time may not always serve to accurately identify progress.  Indicators should not be used in fragments or in isolation, and have more meaning when looked at holistically.  Further, the use of indicators and other monitoring tools are complementary and necessary to better assess and understand the overall picture of implementation. 

For example, where an indicator refers to the “number of complaints received and adjudicated” related to a right, this number (whether low or high) cannot alone indicate progress or gaps in implementation of that right.  A low number of complaints does not necessarily reflect respect for rights, as a higher number does not reflect a higher incidence of rights violations.

Information provided through other indicators and other monitoring tools may reveal that complaints mechanisms are not accessible or that they are not functioning nor reliable, or that persons with disabilities are not aware of their rights, or all of the above.  Further analysis and information will be required through the use of other indicators and other monitoring tools to better understand implementation and their gaps (see FAQ 15).

Human rights indicators are one kind of monitoring tool- they can be very useful in measuring certain aspects of implementation, yet they have their limits.  They cannot and should not be used on their own to reflect a comprehensive overview of CRPD implementation.  They should be used in conjunction with other monitoring tools and methodologies such as interviews and focus groups, gathering of case studies, review of documents, etc.), academic and participatory research, among others.


3. Who should use these indicators?

The indicators’ primary objective is to guide States on actions and measures to be taken in implementing the CRPD and facilitating assessment of this progress. Law, policy and other decision makers across all levels of government can benefit from these indicators to know what kind of steps should be taken to transform the legal, policy and budgetary framework, as well as to know what specific measures need to be taken to appropriately implement that framework in compliance with the CRPD. 

The indicators also serve as a tool for any organisation or body to assess a State’s implementation under a given right.  As such, it may provide guidance to stakeholders such as National Human Rights Institutions, civil society including organisations of persons with disabilities, international cooperation agencies, UN agencies, donors, etc. on monitoring the State’s progress and to hold the State accountable under the CRPD.  It can also serve human rights monitoring mechanisms in assessing progress in implementation the rights of persons with disabilities. 


4. How can the indicators be used in reporting processes to human rights treaty bodies and other processes to review CRPD compliance?

Indicators have frequently been promoted for use in monitoring mechanisms such as in country reviews conducted by the UN treaty bodies, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Human Rights Council, etc., and have figured in recommendations by these bodies to States parties.

Given that the indicators are based on international human right standards, as set out primarily by the CRPD and the jurisprudence of the CRPD Committee (including General comments, views on communications and recommendations coming out of country reviews), they provide an overview of the measures and actions which will be examined by the Committee to assess progress in implementation on a given right or provision.  As such, the indicators serve as tools to guide States in their reporting obligations, to identify the information and data to demonstrate compliance with the CRPD’s obligations. 

The CRPD Committee is being consulted in the process of developing these human rights indicators and has expressed interest to adopt these indicators when finalised, in the context of country reviews to help guide States in their reporting obligations.

Other treaty bodies and monitoring mechanisms can also make use of these indicators where their mandates also encompass the rights of persons with disabilities.  In this vein, the indicators aim to converge understanding and align interpretations in conformity with that of the CRPD Committee and to strengthen coherence on the rights of persons with disabilities in line with the CRPD.


5. How do CRPD human rights indicators address cross-cutting issues?

Human rights are intrinsically interrelated and interdependent.  For example, while equality and non-discrimination is enshrined in Article 5, it necessarily cuts across all CRPD provisions.  Article 6 on women and girls with disabilities, necessarily traverses all CRPD rights, as does Article 4(3) on the obligation to closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations. This interrelation and overlap serves to strengthen implementation by recalling to States their obligations across several CRPD provisions.  Yet this poses as a challenge when it comes to ensuring succinctness of the human rights indicators and adherence to OHCHR’s methodology which prescribes attributes to be mutually exclusive to limit duplication.

Given the CRPD’s unique design, this challenge is magnified. As one of the youngest human rights instruments, it benefited from the lessons of previously adopted human rights treaties to build in provisions to strengthen implementation.  As such, the CRPD incorporates provisions into its text which do not commonly figure in human rights instruments, such as Article 8 on awareness-raising, Article 31 on data collection and disaggregation, Article 32 on international cooperation and Article 33 on national implementation and monitoring.1   While these implementing measures impact greatly upon upholding human rights, they are not human rights themselves. Thus, applying human rights indicators to these provisions cannot always be done in accordance with OHCHR’s methodology which is primarily targeting and measuring the enjoyment of a particular right.  In these cases, the indicators are focused on the specific implementing measure and its core elements, as set out in the attributes.

Overall, efforts have been made to strike a balance between incorporating cross-cutting rights and implementing measures into each indicator table while still keeping the focus on the core aspects of each article. However, in order to achieve this balance it has not always been possible to include all cross-cutting concerns within each indicator table and efforts were made to prevent overlap amongst the indicator tables to ensure their usability and practicality.  This is not an exact science and it is advised that the indicators be used holistically and in conjunction with other monitoring tools.


6. Do human rights indicators take into account the indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals?

Yes, SDG indicators have been incorporated, where relevant, into the human rights indicator tables. Where SDG indicators have been incorporated this has been indicated in parentheses. For instance, under Article 5 of the CRPD (Equality and non-discrimination), many SDGs indicators have been included as outcome indicators to capture the enjoyment of the right to equality and non-discrimination by persons with disabilities.

Most SDG indicators do not have a particular focus on persons with disabilities and on many occasions, SDG indicators were expanded to make them more appropriate for reporting and monitoring on implementation of the rights of persons with disabilities under the CRPD. For example, an SDG indicator may only call for disaggregation of data by sex and age and not by disability. Therefore, “disaggregation by disability” has been added to each SDG indicator (see FAQ 10 and 11). 

This also reflects the general commitment under SDG 17.18 to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by several characteristics including disability.  As States take on this commitment and expand their disaggregation, data and statistics on persons with disabilities will increasingly be made available.


7. Can the indicators be used for monitoring of the SDGs?

Similar to FAQ 4, the indicators provide an avenue for States to assess and report on their progress in implementing the rights of persons with disabilities. This also applies when reporting within the framework of the Voluntary National Review at the High Level Political Forum and monitoring the progress of SDGs implementation in their own national context. 

The SDGs cannot be achieved if they are not inclusive of persons with disabilities. Nor can they be achieved if they do not promote and protect their human rights. The human rights indicators on the CRPD serve also as a guide on how the SDGs should be implemented for persons with disabilities. For example, Goal 5 on gender equality can be achieved for women and girls with disabilities in accordance with Article 6 of the CRPD and other related articles. By incorporating the SDGs indicators into the CRPD human rights indicators, it becomes evident that gathering data on the SDGs also serves to assess implementation of the CRPD and vice versa.  The two instruments are thus inextricably linked and efforts made for one should necessarily serve efforts made to implement the other.


8. Where can the data be found to populate the indicators?

In order to give guidance on how to populate the human rights indicators, a data sources guidance is currently being developed which aims to provide examples of  existing disability-related data sources linked to outcome indicators , while identifying the gaps that may exist (see FAQ 9). The data sources guidance is meant to provide an avenue for policymakers to link the Sustainable Development Goals and their corresponding targets and indicators to the relevant article(s) within the CRPD.


9. What if the data does not exist?

It is very likely that some of the data being asked for by the indicators is not available in many countries due to limited data collection and/or disaggregation.  The data sources guidance that is being developed within the project will help to showcase examples of existing data sources where information can be found to populate the outcome indicators. 

Implementation of Article 31 of the CRPD and SDG 17.18, as well as measures responding to recommendations by other treaty bodies calling for enhanced data collection and disaggregation by disability, should lead to the greater availability of data sources and statistics on persons with disabilities.  The human rights indicators also serve as a demand and call on States to progressively ensure this data collection and disaggregation and render persons with disabilities visible within statistics for evidence based policymaking.


10. Why are data collection and disaggregation by “disability” key for the indicators?

Data collection and disaggregation “by disability” is key to identifying patterns of exclusion and discrimination of persons with disabilities, compared to other persons, and among different groups of persons with disabilities.  This facilitates assessment and impact of ongoing measures and in turn to reshape and develop those measures with an evidence base.

As part of the 2030 Agenda, States explicitly pledged to leave no one behindand for more systematic data collection and disaggregation, including by disability, to help achieve and measure the goals (SDG 17.18). Similarly, Article 31 of the CRPD requires the collection of “…appropriate information, including statistical and research data, to enable them to formulate and implement policies to give effect to the present Convention”, and states that “[t]he information collected in accordance with this article shall be disaggregated, as appropriate…”

Throughout the table of indicators, disaggregation “by disability” refers to the kind of impairment, in accordance with the CRPD and the CRPD Committee’s jurisprudence (i.e. persons with physical disabilities, blind persons, deaf persons, deafblind persons, hard of hearing persons, persons with intellectual disabilities, persons with psychosocial disabilities, persons with autism, etc.).2

For simplicity and consistency with the SDGs, the term used when calling for disaggregation is “by disability”.  States can and should take steps to disaggregate by kind of disability to know and better respond to the situation of different groups of persons with disabilities, and to live up to the commitment to reach the furthest behind first.


11. Do indicators provide guidance on data collection and disaggregation methods?

No, the indicators do not aim at providing guidance on methods of data collection, however they do call for systematic data disaggregation “by disability” as required by the CRPD and the CRPD Committee jurisprudence (see FAQ 10).  As basic data required to report on many of the human rights indicators may still not be the object of data collection, the indicators serve to call for further developments to ensure that the data related to persons with disabilities is appropriately collected and disaggregated.

Disability-data collection methods and tools are a matter of current technical debate and development and disaggregation “by disability” may require different methods, depending on the kind of information sought and the method deployed. These methodological issues are resolvable and require further discussion by relevant professionals designing tools for data collection, including statistical data and administrative data.

In this context, under Article 31 of the CRPD (Statistical and research data), the CRPD Committee has consistently recommended the use of the Washington Group Short Set of Questions on Disability, which have been designed to be integrated into national censuses and household surveys. This data instrument has been widely tested by countries and is supported by the CRPD Committee, UN agencies and other organisations3 as a tool ready for use today, to secure a baseline for comparison to measure the impact of the SDGs on persons with disabilities.

More broadly, OHCHR proposes a Human Rights Based Approach to Data (HRBAD) in order to ensure the quality, relevance and use of data is consistent with international human rights norms. This approach focuses on several key principles to guide data collection and disaggregation, namely: participation, data disaggregation, self-identification, transparency, privacy and accountability.  HRBAD should be incorporated into data collection and disaggregation efforts by States to facilitate CRPD implementation.


12. Do indicators assess the compliance with the obligation to closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities in the design and implementation of legislation and policies that concern them?

Yes. Article 4(3) of the CRPD provides that “in the development and implementation of legislation and policies to implement the present Convention, and in other decision-making processes concerning issues relating to persons with disabilities, States Parties shall closely consult with and actively involve persons with disabilities, including children with disabilities, through their representative organizations.”

This obligation applies across the board to all indicators, notably structural indicators (commitment) and process indicators (efforts). Therefore, whenever an indicator refers to “legislation enacted”, “national strategy adopted”, or to awareness raising campaigns or training provided on CRPD related issues, etc., it is always implicit that it has to be done in “close consultation with and with the active involvement of” persons with disabilities. This is in accordance with the guidance developed by the CRPD Committee in its general comment no. 7 (2018).

In addition, where a process indicator states “[c]onsultation processes undertaken to ensure active involvement of persons with disabilities, including through their organizations, in the design, implementation and monitoring of laws, regulations, policies and programs, related to…”. This indicator requires verifying concrete activities including consultation meetings, technical briefings, online consultation surveys, calls for comments on draft legislations and policies, among other methods of participation.


13. What is a “mainstream” policy/program? What is a “disability-specific” policy/program?

Some indicators refer to “mainstream” policies (also “general” or “regular”, interchangeably) and “disability-specific policies” (or “targeting persons with disabilities”), reflecting the twin-track approach to disability which entails ensuring inclusion of the rights of persons with disabilities into broader or “mainstream” programmes or policies, and adopting specific policies and programmes which focus on persons with disabilities. 

The first are the “mainstream” policies, where implementing the rights on persons with disabilities under the CRPD calls on ensuring that general policies or measures do not discriminate but are inclusive of persons with disabilities. For instance, under Article 24 of the CRPD, the education system has to be made inclusive. Thus “mainstream” (“general” or “regular schools”) schools and their operations needs to respond to the needs of all students including students with disabilities among others. 

The second are the “disability-specific” policies, where the CRPD may require measures that target persons with disabilities. This includes for instance, specific measures to achieve the facto equality for persons with disabilities under Article 5 of the CRPD, which seeks to reduce pervasive inequalities in the enjoyment of rights by persons with disabilities, as compared to others. Another example can be found under Article 28 on social protection and adequate standard of living, which requires that social protection schemes take into account and cover disability-related costs which only persons with disabilities incur.


14. Do Indicators apply to “all levels and branches of governments”?

Yes, for States Parties to the Convention, including regional integration organizations under Article 44 of the CRPD, the CRPD’s obligations and standards are applicable andmandatory at all levels and branches of government within the scope of their competencies and in accordance with the constitutional and legal framework.

When adapting the proposed human rights indicators within a State, stakeholders need to consider the structure of the State and the distribution of competences among the different levels and branches of governments to assess compliance. All levels and branches of governments must implement the CRPD, in accordance with the State’s constitutional and legal framework.  Furthermore, the rights of persons with disabilities are a cross-cutting issue within legislation and policy making, and thus are not limited to a level of government or a specific sector.

For federal States, Article 4(5) of the CRPD provides that “the provisions of the present Convention shall extend to all parts of federal states without any limitations or exceptions.” The federal structure of a State is therefore responsible for non-compliance at any level, and each federal unit (e.g. state/province) must comply with CRPD obligations and standards. For example, within a federal state, education may be regulated by both federal and state law. Federal and state law and the actions of federal units must comply with and enforce inclusive education as set out in the CRPD.  Federal units are also implicated in country reviews and must be prepared to submit information and respond to the CRPD Committee on its implementation efforts and outcomes.


15. How to interpret the indicator on “number of complaints”?

Several tables of indicators include a process indicator on the “[n]umber of received complaints concerning [a right], investigated and adjudicated in favour of the complainant, disaggregated by kind of mechanism, and the proportion of these complied with by the government or duty bearer.” This indicator has a twofold purpose.

First, it seeks to capture the number of complaints submitted allowing comparability over time. Second, it provides insight on the responsiveness of the government or duty bearers to the outcome of complaint procedures (decisions, recommendations, etc.): the higher the proportion of decisions complied with, the more effective complaints procedures are.

Additionally, further disaggregation is valuable to better identify trends and gaps in protection (see as an example indicator 5.17 and its footnote); complaint procedures may differ in the kind of mechanism (judicial/administrative/equality body, NHRI or independent monitoring framework), and type of outcome (binding decision/recommendation/advisory opinion, etc.).

While more categories related to outcome of proceedings could be added to the indicator (e.g. decisions on admissibility or legal standing, etc.), the indicator is limited to require capturing:

a) the number of complaints submitted on a particular right (number of received complaints);
b) the number of those that led to a decision/recommendation in favour of the complainant;
c) the proportion of these (b) acted upon and complied by the government or duty bearer;
d) (a) and (b) above disaggregated by the kind of mechanism used.

The specific right and the context are key in order to interpret the information collected for this indicator. For instance, an increase in the number of complaints related to a right does not necessarily mean that the general situation has become worse. It indicates that more complaints are being submitted. This could be due to increased awareness on the right or on the complaint mechanism, improved accessibility of the mechanism, better registration of complaints, etc. In any case, the information captured by the indicator does not explain why, but identifies a trend which calls for further inquiry. 

For example, the data collected through this indicator could complement case studies documented by complainants or by organisations of persons with disabilities gathering information directly from complainants, courts, NHRIs or other stakeholders.

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1/ There are exceptions, e.g. Articles 23(4) and 28(3) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on international cooperation; the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture on national preventive mechanisms;

2/ Implicitly this encompasses “actual or perceived impairment” which refers to the person’s condition itself or the perception of it by others, rather than “disability” relating to the interaction between the person and the environment. An example would be the case of deprivation of liberty on the basis of “actual or perceived impairment”, as it is the person’s impairment or the perceived impairment that underlies the deprivation of liberty contrary to article 14 of the CRPD, and not a consideration of the barriers in the environment.

3/ http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/data-joint-statement-march2017; Joint Declaration by the CRPD Committee and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, February 2018