FAIR methodology

Taking a Human Rights Based Approach to information gathering: A FAIR Methodology

Taking a human rights based approach (HRBA) is about putting the human being at the centre of the scoping project. The HRBA was first developed in relation to international development processes and more recently it has been applied to public services, as well as business practices, around the world. Essentially a HRBA helps to integrate the norms, standards and principles of the international human rights system into everyday policy and practice and it can be applied to all areas of public life that affect human rights.

SHRC seeks to integrate a HRBA into everything that it does in promoting awareness understanding and respect for human rights in Scotland. It informs SHRC’s activities in education, training, awareness raising, impact assessment development, promotion of best practice, and SHRC’s programme of research. Since 2008, SHRC has sought to operationalise the principles behind a HRBA through the development and adoption of a ‘FAIR’ methodological framework. That is to say:

FFacts: What are the important facts to understand?

AAnalysis: What are the human rights or issues at stake?

IIdentifying Shared Responsibilities: What changes are necessary? Who has responsibilities for helping to make the necessary changes?

RRecall: Over time have the necessary changes occurred? If not, who is to be held accountable?

Using the FAIR methodological framework throughout this programme of work has allowed SHRC to identify the facts and provide a common framework for exploration and analysis. The conclusions to this scoping project provide the necessary platform for SHRC to work with others to identify the shared responsibilities through the development of Scotland’s first National Action Plan for Human Rights and to monitor progress and recall over time in order to see if the necessary changes have happened.

Summary of Scoping Project Methods

The scoping project began in 2009 and was divided into two key phases of data collection which began in 2010. The first phase focused on the collection and analysis of a range of secondary research and the development of a stakeholder database of third Sector organisations involved to some degree in the promotion of human rights in Scotland. This database provided SHRC with a greater understanding of the range of groups and organisations which view part of their work to be promoting human rights in Scotland and provided a sampling framework for invitations to participate in the focus groups and in-depth interviews convened by SHRC. The data sources collated and analysed in the first phase included:

  • an annotated bibliography of published and grey social research (Driver et al.,2010)
  • three legal literature reviews exploring specific Conventions/Acts in relation to the law in Scotland (Smith etc et al., 2010b, Normand and Webster, 2010, Flanigan, 2011)
  • all individual enquiries received by SHRC and all general intelligence on systemic human rights issues in Scotland collated by SHRC (2008-2010)
  • all responses to SHRC’s 2009 national consultation (SHRC, 2009a)
  • initial Scottish data from the development of a ‘Human Rights Measurement Framework’ (Candler et al., 2011).

The second phase involved the development of the thematic and contextual framework presented in Sections 2 and 3 and the undertaking of focus groups and in depth interviews to explore the thematic areas in further depth through a series of in depth interviews and focus groups across the country. In line with SHRC’s statutory mandate, particular focus was placed on hearing from those who are marginalised and whose voices are less often heard. In taking this approach SHRC sought to put a ‘human face’ on the issues raised.