Standardized Monitoring System (SMS)

Co-create a unique set of indicators and monitoring tools. Our system integrates people & their rights at the centre of public policies and practices. Basically, participating cities will make human rights a reality for the people. 

Above all, the process will transform participating cities into human rights cities or strengthen the good practices of the ones that already are. The tailor-made system respond to the specific needs of both, the cities and the people. 

Afterwards, the standardisation of the monitoring system will allow a largest number of cities in Europe to monitor, assess and improve the human rights at local level!

What is it about?

We are developing a specific Standardized Monitoring System (SMS) in a limited number of pilot cities!

This initiative builds on the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) Framework for locally – based Human Rights Action and therefore, to the development of the human rights cities movement in Europe. The aim is to co-create a unique set of indicators and monitoring tools integrating people and their rights at the centre of the public policies and practices. Cities using this system will be able to regularly evaluate their achievements and analyse the influence of their work in making human rights (HR) a reality for the people. The process allows to constantly track gaps and areas of progress.

The assessment of the most important outcomes of implementing human rights-based policies will contribute to transforming participating cities into Human Rights Cities (HRCs) or to strengthening the good practices of the ones that already are. Pilot cities will co-develop and implement a road map throughout 8 key steps, in cooperation with civil society representatives.

As a result, the tailormade monitoring system will respond to the specific needs of both, the cities and the people.

Why is this important?

At present, there is no specific standardized assessment system based on European or international minimum standards framing the development of a human rights city. In Europe, the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA)’s new Framework for locally-based Human Rights Action, is a landmark in this regard.

The standardisation of a monitoring system is based on key human rights indicators specific to local policies. The process will provide greater accountability and a better enforcement of human rights commitments, both at the local and the global level. Larger cooperation among HRCs – for example through mentoring between cities, twinning, or peer reviewing – at national, regional and international level will contribute to increase the number of cities committed to human rights. Structured monitoring and mentoring will foster greater exchange of experiences among cities engaged in the process and raise awareness on the value added of applying a human rights-approached agenda.

Monitoring human rights policies and practices on regular basis is necessary to maintain the Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) in cities’ public policies over time. The inclusion of civil society representatives (people, HRCs practitioners, academia, private sector) and a close cooperation with National Human Rights Institutions, Equality bodies, and relevant HR international organisations is fundamental. Participating cities will be able to regularly measure concrete improvements in the respect and the promotion of human rights in everyday life of their inhabitants.

Our action

Democracy and human rights start where people live, and cities are the best place to exercise these rights. Therefore, human rights cities are in a strategic position to better address inclusion, gender equity, accessibility of public services and social justice through their local governance.

This postulate is the foundation of the action that involves a group of maximum 10 cities to design, implement and refine a monitoring system of the effectiveness of human rights policies at the local level. The pilot cities will adopt a participatory approach to involve civil society representatives in the process. Together, they will regularly evaluate the success of the integration of a human rights-based approach in public services delivery.

The main objectives of the action are the following:

  • Create an interactive community of human rights cities practitioners in Europe
  • Exchange locally-developed best practices and lessons learned at city level
  • Support cities and key actors to connect, promote and scale up the development of human rights cities
  • Advance a guiding philosophy, principles and models that are linked to relevant instruments and policies at the national, European and international level
  • Tackle the challenges and provide solutions that can lead to the successful development of human rights cities

Overall objective :

  • Improve the implementation of human rights practices in Europe

Specific objectives :

  • Develop a standardized system to monitor the implementation of human rights practice at local level in Europe
  • Support pilot cities to sustain a human rights-based approach in their public services delivery

Core principals we stand for

Conceptualised by a senior monitoring expert in collaboration with the HRCN The Standardized Monitoring System (SMS) is co-created with the cities and the people. This will contribute to make human rights a reality to every individual constituting/being part the cities’ life. The pilot cites will develop and test the SMS over a cycle of 8 key steps including: the Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) training of cities’ officials and civil society’s representatives, the identification of a common core of HR indicators, the elaboration of specific tools and their possible digitalisation. These tools  will be refined following a pre-test on the ground, in view of the standardisation of the methodology and its replication on a wider scale. 

We have five core principals at the heart of the way we work to develop and co-create sustainable ecosystem:

  • Focus on public services delivery applying a Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA);
  • Co-create a system based on the HRCN catalogue of common human rights indicators and use a standardized methodology for its refinement and harmonization;
  • Integrate a Results-Based Management approach (RBM ) prioritising the assessment of the outcomes achieved over the outputs generated by the cities;
  • Adopt a progressive approach based on a set of core indicators with the possibility to expand the number of indicators to other thematic areas;
  • Provide the possibly to digitalise the SMS as an option to facilitate the collection, analysis and dissemination of data and improve its user-friendliness.
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