Demand for and use of indicators to measure human rights has increased significantly in the past several years. While well-established human rights indicators exist, including Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Index and the United States’ Trafficking in Persons report, the need for quantitative tools to help implement human rights has led to increased interest in and study of the creation of indicators. In response to this interest and the need for consistency, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recently published a guide on human rights indicators.
Migration research has also recently seen a growth in the development of measurement tools. The use of migration indicators has come to include measures regarding the ratification and recognition of migrant rights instruments, migration flows, and migration causes and impacts. Recently, academics have also worked on means to measure immigration policy variation across states and across time. The ongoing International Migration Policy and Law Analysis Database (IMPALA) project endeavors to build a database on comparative immigration law and policy in over 25 countries of immigration between 1960 and 2010. The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) consists of 148 legal and outcome indicators on migrant integration policy.
IMBR Indicators Fill a Gap
While there are various projects that measure the implementation of a range of human rights and recent projects that assess migration policies across a number of countries, there exists a lack of comparable data to assess the laws and policies that affect the human rights of all migrants. Because the IMBR is a unique framework for the protection of the rights of all categories of migrants, indicators based on the IMBR can guide the collection of data and research that can fill this gap.
Students at Georgetown Law are researching and drafting a first set of indicators based on the IMBR. The IMBR indicators consist of structural indicators: indicators that assess a State’s laws and policy against the rights in the IMBR. In addition to evaluating a State’s ratification of relevant human rights treaties, the indicators aim to capture whether a State’s domestic legal regime protects the rights and norms present in the IMBR.
The students will then conduct a pilot study of U.S. law and policy using the indicators. This pilot study will function both as a tool to measure U.S. conformity with the IMBR and as a means to further develop and finalize the set of indicators so that future students and organizations may use the indicators to conduct research in other countries.
On February 7th and 8th, 2013, the International Migrants Bill of Rights (IMBR) Initiative held a conference in Washington, DC to discuss the development of indicators as a tool to help assess the promotion and implementation of the human rights of all migrants. The conference was generously funded by the Open Society Foundations International Migration Initiative.