The development by an affected group of indicators and benchmarks has become PPR’s best known human rights tool. In November 2012, the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights cited PPR’s indicators methodology as a best practice example of how communities can claim their rights.

Under human rights law, government has an obligation to progressively realise economic and social rights. What this means is that things need to improve. Year on year, services and conditions should be getting better.

Through development sessions on action research, the group establish an evidential baseline through a number of methods including surveys, focus groups, photographic evidence, Freedom of Information requests etc. This assesses the extent to which these issues affect other people like them in their communities. It also provides evidence on what things are like now.


The group then finalise their human rights indicators. These indicators are basically measurements – they are measured by the group over a period of time, usually a year. This shows:

  • are things getting better on the ground in this community?
  • are the government progressively realising rights as required by human rights law?

Because time is not neutral when change is required by the most vulnerable, the groups also set targets for change or benchmarks. These benchmarks allow the group to identify the acceptable rate of change/progressive realisation of the right for them.

The value of the group’s indicators is that they measure if the most vulnerable groups are actually feeling the benefits of money spent by government, and the policies and programmes put in place. They are charting the impact of government policies on the ground, in their communities.

Under human rights law, the state is not a neutral actor. It is a duty-bearer, with an obligation to take positive action to realise economic and social rights, particularly for its most vulnerable groups.  This exercise allows the rights-holder, the affected group to define what human rights progress looks like.

A useful article which discusses PPR's use of human rights indicators and benchmarks, as well as other accountability tools "Reimagining rights based accountability: community use of economic and social rights" was published in the Irish Community Development Law Journal in June 2014.