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Volume 16, No.06 - June 2012

Trends and analysis


A more flexible classification for time-use statistics

An expert group meeting will take place in New York from 11-13 June to finalize the Trial International Classification of Activities for Time-Use Statistics (ICATUS).

The purpose of the trial classification is to assist countries interested in embarking on time-use studies by providing the structure of a classification which could be adapted to national circumstances and facilitate international comparisons. This trial international classification can be used by both developing and developed countries in their time-use surveys.

Classification of activities for time-use statistics was first flagged at the 28th session of the Statistical Commission in 1995. By 1997, the UN Statistics Division had convened its first expert group meeting to prepare a draft classification.

Based on the experience of countries who used or adapted this classification, as well as on recommendations from a second expert group meeting organized in 2000, a revised version was issued and published in the ‘Guide to Producing Statistics on Time Use: Measuring Paid and Unpaid Work (United Nations, 2005’) entitled ‘UN Trial International Classification of Activities for Time-Use Statistics (ICATUS)’.

This June expert group meeting, organized by the UN DESA’s Statistics Division, will bring together around 20 national and international experts to discuss and agree on several topics including:

  • the updates of the current categories;
  • the consistency of ICATUS with the new international standards classification;
  • the treatment of more complex aspects (categories such as “looking for work” or “waiting”);
  • the mapping (correspondence tables) between ICATUS and other existing classifications.

The final agreed classification will be presented to the UN Statistical Commission for endorsement in 2013, after review by the Expert Group on International Economic and Social Classifications.

For more information: http://unstats.un.org/unsd/newsletter/globalstat_unsd_calendar.htm

Gaps in the rights of the elderly

An expert group meeting centered on the gaps in the human rights of the elderly will be held in New York from 29-31 May.

The meeting, hosted by UN DESA Social Policy and Development Division and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, will debate the nature of gaps in international human rights provisions relating to the rights of older persons and identify the protection measures required to address them.

Attended not only by the expert delegates themselves, the meeting is open to representatives of Member States and civil society organizations as observers and aims at informing the debate from a substantive human rights perspective by addressing urgent and relevant gaps in the respect, protection and fulfillment of human rights of older persons. More specifically, the meeting aims to debate the nature of gaps in international human rights instruments as they relate to the rights of older persons, in particular normative gaps, and to identify protection measures required to address them.

Outcomes from the expert group meeting will feed into the third working session of the General Assembly open-ended working group on ageing. The third working session will continue to focus on strengthening the protection of human rights for the elderly and will be held from 21-24 August 2012.

For more information: http://social.un.org/ageing-working-group/

Youth and employment part of a sustainable future

The first Youth Forum took place on 4 May under the theme “Creating a Sustainable Future: Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities”. 

“Young people are the future of our societies. As such, they should also be part of solutions,” the Vice President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Luis Alfonso de Alba, told participants at the first Youth Forum, hosted by ECOSOC. “Creating a sustainable future means empowering youth with better job opportunities – and it means giving young people a voice.”

The forum, whose theme is “Empowering Youth with Better Job Opportunities,” brought together young delegates and entrepreneurs, students and representatives of youth non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Participants took part in two interactive dialogues, the first one focusing on education and training, and the second on the creation of green jobs and the conditions needed to create them. In her address to participants, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro stressed that youth are mobilizing like never before and that their ideas can help countries achieve their sustainable development objectives.

Currently, young people are three times as likely as adults to be unemployed. In Europe nearly one in four young people are out of a job, and in North Africa and the Middle East youth unemployment is almost 30 per cent, the highest worldwide. Mr. de Alba highlighted that in addition to a high rate of unemployment, it is important to look at underemployment and vulnerable employment, as many young people are on precarious short-term contracts, or trapped in low-skill and poorly paid jobs.

The Forum was attended by youth representatives from around the world as well as Member States, representatives from the private sector, the academic community, and civil society organizations that are engaged in youth issues. Key messages and recommendations arising from the Forum will be presented at the Rio+20 Conference in June, and the Council’s own High-Level Segment in July.

The event was organized by DESA (Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination in collaboration with Division for Social Policy and Development) and the Department of Public Information (UN Academic Impact).

More collaboration with the Economist Intelligence

A Seminar on the Economist Democracy Index methodology took place 24 April with Mr. Robert Wood, Senior Editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

The Economist Intelligence Unit offers forecasting and advisory services to its clients. It provides country, industry and management analysis worldwide. It is particularly well known for its monthly country reports, five-year country economic forecasts, country risk service reports, and industry reports.

In this event, hosted by the UN DESA’s Division for Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM), Robert Wood presented the main features of the methodologies used by the EIU team for assessing and rating country risks and economic forecasts.  He also explained how the political factors are taken into consideration on country analysis. This event was a great opportunity for the participants from the Division and other UN agencies to ask questions and exchange ideas. Mr. Wood expressed his intentions to further collaborate with the Division on public governance and also invited the EIU’s team to consider e-government aspects in EIU’s future analysis in regards to participatory governance and transparency.

Citizens’ engagement in parliaments

DESA collaborated in a research project on citizen engagement of the oversight work of parliaments of Ghana, India and South Africa.

The research aims to explore how committees of parliaments utilize formal mechanisms of civil engagement to monitor public service delivery and strengthen accountability on public spending. It is conducted by the New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service in collaboration with the Division of Public Administration and Development Management (DPADM). Three teams of graduate students made field research in these countries in January 2012, and they shared their findings with the Division.  

Research findings common to the three countries are:

  • Public engagement often occurs through informal or ad-hoc channels and
  • although principles of inclusion are enshrined in the countries’ constitutions and laws, citizen engagement is difficult to track in public service oversight mechanisms.

The research also highlighted the role of civil society organization in bridging the gap between citizens and government, and how the Public Account Committees of Parliaments have very little interaction with the citizens.  

The next steps in the DPADM /Wagner School collaboration will be the publication of a report of the findings and the launch of a new phase of research, an expanded research to include the countries with systems of government other than the Prim Minister-parliament, and an expanded research to include the representative function of parliaments, and focus on specific regions, including the Arab region.