The use of indicators as a technique of global governance is increasing rapidly. Major examples include the World Bank’s Doing Business Indicators; the World Bank’s Good Governance and Rule of Law indicators; the Millennium Development Goals (which inform many indicators); many OECD indicators and rankings; the indicators produced by Transparency International, Freedom House, and consultancies specializing in advising investors on political risks; and the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons indicators. Human rights indicators are being developed in the UN and regional and advocacy organizations. The burgeoning production and use of indicators has not been accompanied by systematic comparative study of, and reflection on, the implications, possibilities and pitfalls of this practice. What does it mean to use indicators as a technology of governance?  How does the increasing use of indicators in global governance affect the distribution of power and the power of the governed? How does it affect the nature of decision-making about the allocation of resources and efforts to monitor compliance with global standards? This project, directed by Kevin Davis, Benedict Kingsbury, and NYU legal anthropologist Sally Engle Merry, working closely with Meg Satterthwaite, Lewis Kornhauser, Richard Stewart, and other NYU faculty, examines this phenomenon.

Framing Paper

IILJ Working Paper 2010/2 (Revised)

Indicators as a Technology of Global Governance

Kevin E. DavisBenedict KingsburySally Engle Merry