FRAMING FULFILLMENT: THE OPERA FRAMEWORK

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FRAMING FULFILLMENT:

THE OPERA FRAMEWORK


Madrid, Spain, March 23, 2012






New Horizons in Economic and Social Rights Monitoring

BACKGROUND

OVERVIEW

REFLECTIONS


BACKGROUND

OVERVIEW

REFLECTIONS


The objectives of our monitoring work

To
expose chronic, but preventable, deprivations

such as poverty,
hunger, homelessness, illiteracy and early mortality.

To produce
persuasive reports
that are
accessible

for a variety of
stakeholders.

To uncover the institutional shortcomings that hinder states’ efforts and
to propose
actionable recommendations

for reform.

To open space for greater legal, political and social
accountability
.


Our goals in designing the framework

To provide a
simple, coherent structure

in order to build a
persuasive
advocacy argument.

To systematically
bring together the standards and principles

underpinning states’
obligation to fulfill

economic and social rights.

In particular, to
link evidence

about a state’s conduct, with evidence
about the outcomes that result from that conduct.

To benefit from the strengths of quantitative tools and techniques in
supporting such evidence, at the same time respecting the need to
balance

quantitative and qualitative analysis and personal testimonies
.

BACKGROUND

OVERVIEW

REFLECTIONS


OPERA: a four
-
step framework

Linking principles with ways to measure them

OUTCOMES

Measure aggregate levels of rights enjoyment

Why?
Widespread deprivations suggest obligations of result (e.g.
reaching minimum essential levels of a right) are not being met.

How?
Compare socio
-
economic outcome indicators to benchmarks
(e.g. IBSA, SERF index) and/or analogous countries (e.g. in region or level
of development). Deviations can point to whether a country’s
performance is reasonable or not.

Outcomes

Measure disparities in rights enjoyment

Why?
Differences in the
enjoyment of a rights raise
concerns about possible
discrimination.

How?
Disaggregate socio
-
economic indicators by
relevant social groups (e.g.
ethnicity, religion, gender,
residence, income level
etc.)



Outcomes

Measure progress over time

Why?
Identifying trends in the enjoyment of a right over time
indicates whether it is being progressively realized and whether
disparities are growing or reducing.

How?
Compare the same socio
-
economic indicators over time
(aggregate or disaggregated).


Outcomes

POLICY EFFORTS

Identify legal and policy commitments

Why?
Shows whether the government is
adequately “taking steps” towards the full
realization of rights.

How?
Identify structural indicators and
compare the provisions of relevant laws and
policies to international standards, guidelines
etc.

Example:
the mental health sector in Kenya
is governed by out
-
of
-
date legislation not
consistent with international guidelines and
the government is yet to adopt a policy
drafted almost ten years ago.


Policy efforts

Examine policy content and implementation

Why?
To determine whether the goods and
services needed to fulfill a right are
increasingly available, accessible,
acceptable and of adequate quality.

How?
A
range of techniques

can be used to
gather primary or secondary data on
relevant process indicators.

As in step one, cross
-
country comparisons,
disaggregated data or international
guidelines all offer
reference points
against
which to interpret this data.

Qualitative analysis and
personal testimony

identify the capacity gaps hindering better
service delivery.

Policy efforts

Kenya, % deliveries in a health
facility, KDHS 2008/9

Analyze policy processes

Why?
To determine whether the policy
process enables rights holders to actively
participate in the design, implementation
and oversight of policies and to hold the
government to account when they are
negatively affected by them.

How?

Qualitative techniques (e.g. focus
groups, interviews) can gather feedback
from particular rights holders. Quantifiable
national level studies (e.g. perception
surveys and governance indicators) can
provide a general overview in the country.

Policy efforts

RESOURCES

Analyze resource allocation and expenditure

Why?
To evaluate whether expenditures (planned and actual) in
relevant sectors are an
equitable and effective use of available
resources.

How?
Use allocation ratios, judged against relevant reference points,
that show how much is being earmarked for key sectors. Various
governance tools can uncover weaknesses, leakages or discrimination
in the disbursement of funds
.

Resources

16.4

16.9

17.9

18.0

18.0

18.1

18.7

19.3

20.1

20.4

20.6

21.7

21.7

23.9

24.2

25.4

10
15
20
25
30
% of GDP, 2010

Government Expenditure on Social Protection as a Percentage of GDP

Analyze resource generation

Why?
To assess whether revenue
from different sources is being
mobilized equitably and effectively.

How?
Evaluate relevant fiscal,
monetary, and macro
-
economic
policies against human rights
principles.

Examples


Ascertain if the tax system collects
sufficient resources and where it
could improve.


Determine if the tax system is
progressive or regressive


Review trade, aid and debt policies.

Resources

Analyze budget processes

Why?
The principles of accountability,
transparency and participation demand
that the budget process be open and
accessible to citizens.


How?
Like in step two, qualitative
techniques can gather feedback from
particular rights holders. Quantitative
perception surveys and indicators (e.g.
Open Budget Survey) can provide a
general overview in the country.

Resources

ASSESSMENT

Identify other determinants

Why?
Identify socio
-
economic, political and cultural factors that
inhibit people’s ability to enjoy their rights or seek redress if they
are violated, to pinpoint the responses expected of the state.

How?

Although these barriers can be uncovered through
sophisticated quantitative methods, such as econometrics,
qualitative approaches, such capacity gaps analysis, can
facilitate the participation of rights holders
.

Assessment

Understand state constraints

Why?
The capacity of the government
(influenced by third parties and structural
limitations) is also relevant in order to explain
why its efforts have not been more
successful.

How?
Again, these constraints can be
uncovered through qualitative approaches
or quantitative methods from various fields.

Assessment

Determine state compliance

Why?
To make a conclusion about a
government’s performance with its
obligation to fulfill economic, social and
cultural rights.

How?
By triangulating the findings from the
first three steps a picture should emerge,
from which it is possible to make a judgment
about the state’s efforts to progressively
fulfill economic, social and cultural rights
and the results of those efforts on the
ground.

Assessment

Used quantitative indicators and qualitative analysis.

Found poor health, education and malnutrition outcomes

Despite country’s wealth, wide disparities, and little progress.

Outcomes

Assessed laws and policies against AAAAQ criteria.

Found exemplary legal and policy framework

But problems in practice e.g. school expensive, poor quality,
often culturally unacceptable for Indigenous children.

Policy efforts

Conducted budget analysis (expenditures and revenues).

Found social spending low; poorest benefit least.

Low generation of resources by highly regressive tax system.

Resources

Many national and international constraints on the
government, including elite resistance to fiscal reform.

Overall inadequate compliance: low ESCR enjoyment not
linked to LACK of resources, but rather their DISTRIBUTION.

Assessment

The ‘Rights or Privileges’ Report
:
key

findings

BACKGROUND

OVERVIEW

REFLECTIONS


The OPERA framework


OPERA is
not a one
-
size
-
fits
-
all model
, but rather a flexible, overarching
framework to guide monitoring of economic and social rights.


Incorporates steps that cover all the human rights standards and principles of
the obligation to fulfill (progressive realization, max resources, AAAAQ, process
principles).


Each step suggests a checklist of
indicative

questions

and suggests a broad array of
quantitative and qualitative
methods

most useful for answering those questions


Which questions demand greater attention and which methods are most
appropriate for answering them, will depend on the objectives, priorities and
practical constraints facing advocates in a
particular context
(historical, political,
institutional etc.).


Adaptable according to
user

,
purpose

and
audience


Incorporates an overall assessment step that reflects on all the data collected
in relation to the specific human rights principles in relation to the local context


Monitoring can
never be a purely technical exercise
, it is an exercise of judgment,
which OPERA aims to acknowledge




Key lessons learned


Well
-
evidenced argument can be very
powerful for advocacy


Violation long been difficult to prove in the context of the
obligation to fulfill
, but
now more difficult to use these as ‘escape hatch’.


Clearly make an argument of the links between poor outcomes and the failures of
government, conduct and result


and make detailed recommendations


Combination of
different types of data
is powerful


Quantitative data adds rigorous assessment, but not sufficient


Qualitative data gives contextual understanding and rights
-
holder perspectives


Triangulation of national statistics, small surveys, focus groups, individual testimonies
and stories using existing surveys for our own normative purposes


Collection and validation of data can itself provide spaces for dialogue


Combination of
different types of tools
is powerful


Comprehensive approach combines analysis of indicators, benchmarks with
budget analysis and broader political economy analysis (why? question)


Need to be interdisciplinary and build partnerships for other skills, but can use
different levels of complexity and methods as necessary.


Need for an
overarching framework
to integrate data and to build a strong
case


OPERA framework




Key challenges faced in applying

framework


Ensuring that assessment is
not technocratic or alienating
to rights
-
holders, but
keeps focus on those affected


Vernacularization

of rights/indicators/benchmarks v. availability of data


Validating ‘data’ with those affected and making messages accessible for
advocacy and mobilization


Ensuring that assessment involves
critical overall normative judgment

that is
relevant to local context and local constraints


Risks of relying on quantitative data and qualitative data and focusing on not just
where and what, but why?


Difficulties of measuring process dimensions


participation, remedies


Difficulties of relationship between levels of government


national v. local


Balance between
comprehensiveness and selective
focus


Guatemala focused on the broad picture of realization of range of rights, but
overwhelming amount of data (less is more?), but focus on one structural constraint


Need to integrate fulfill assessment with respect, protect violations/traditional
methods


Correlation v. causation
-

triangulation


Challenges of
interdisciplinary partnerships



Lost in translation
-

False friends and different underlying assumptions


Time necessary for effective collaboration






Remembering
a long history…..


Not such a new debate….


1908 Muller v. Oregon


Brandeis Br
ief
-

Moved beyond legal argument of ‘freedom of contract’ to include
sociological and statistical data to prove health risks


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brandeis_Brief



Highly controversial
-

Resistance of lawyers not trained in social sciences but also
resistance to dealing with socioeconomic issues (except in striking down social and
economic legislation)


Need to focus on the law and lawyers as well!