Hi! We’re Francisco Hernandez, Carlos Urquilla, and Nigina Valentini from Counterpart International. Have you ever wondered how evaluators are contributing to improved impact in human rights programming? We are specialists in human rights monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) working in Latin America, and we would like to highlight an initiative that has helped advance our work.
Non-governmental watchdogs focused on human rights are instrumental in monitoring human rights, denouncing illegal or arbitrary deprivations, and raising international attention on what happening. Evaluators play a critical role in this. The lack of timely and reliable information and objective analysis contribute to a system that covers up extrajudicial killings and systematically violates people’s rights. One of the largest and most complex issue within human rights is the protection of vulnerable groups, as violations against vulnerable groups tend to be continuous in time, appear to be sometimes random, and are intersectional and therefore linked to numerous other issues. Evaluators are critical to improving human rights programming by helping to understand what is happening beyond a superficial view of data and to conduct thorough analyses to tailor approaches to the complex environment.
A useful resource for human rights evaluators in Latin America is the Observatorio Universitario de Derechos Humanos, OUDH (University Observatory on Human Rights), a research center carried up by the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeón Cañas” (Central American University “José Simeón Cañas”),which includes more than just traditional monitoring and evaluation processes (M&E). OUDH takes a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) approach to collect, systematize and provide information in order to create a responsible analysis and incidence in the promotion, protection and defense of human rights in El Salvador.
We evaluators use this not only for reporting findings, but thanks to the high quality, ethically defensible data that it provides, also to develop evidence-based communication products that allow better understanding of rights and influence public policies aimed at addressing them. There are two approaches to evaluation; externally, evaluating data sources and sharing processes, through site visits of contributing institutions, and internally, reassessing OUDH performance and management, to ensure this resource continues to provide high standard evidence-based data. By conducting research, areas that require prompt intervention to improve the human rights status of vulnerable groups are found; and conclusively through learning methodologies, OUDH staff can develop information and tools essential for users decision-making processes, which help in the formulation and improvement of policies and laws, aimed at preventing discrimination against historically excluded groups.
Resources, such as the OUDH, create public access to information for vulnerable groups, helping them improve their advocacy efforts and solidify their presence in society. The resource provides groups with facts based on hard evidence prompting government officials to create inclusive laws. All this is done with general public’s knowledge on the status of human rights in the country and moving towards a more democratic and inclusive society in the near future.
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