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The Taming of the Shrill: From Indicators to Indicatorization

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The Norm-Generation and Political Effects of Indicators on Human Rights

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This article addresses the specific norm-generation function of indicators in a human rights context, focusing on ways that indicators foreground and legitimize as ‘truth’ particular worldviews or values. It describes the stakes of this process through elaborating on the concept of ‘indicatorization’, focusing on one moment in which the relationship between human rights and development was defined through indicators: the indicatorization of the Right to Development by a UN High Level Task Force in 2010. In this initiative, different perspectives on human rights, equality, participation and development from within the UN and the World Bank were brought together. This resulted in a subtle but significant re-articulation of ideas contained in the 1986 UN Declaration on the Right to Development. The article argues that how indicatorization happens, matters, and has important implications for the potential role of human rights discourse within international economic relations.

Affiliations: 1: PhD Candidate, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, 57 Louis Pasteur, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 6N5


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