Welcome to the Website of the Indicators as a Global Technology/Governance by Information Project

About the Project...

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, by Freedom House, and by consultancies specialized 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.  A framing paper by Davis, Kingsbury and Merry is available.

In order to understand the implications of prominent global governance indicators for the dynamics of power relations, including their influence on behavior, discourse, and contestation, we have created a network of scholars from several countries of the global South and global North who will carry out individual case studies of selected indicators and situations and collaborate through a series of meetings and seminars in order to develop a theoretical framework for the way indicators act in practices of global governance. Information about the Research Scholars Network is available here.

Recent Events:

November 17-18, 2014, NYU School of Law                                                                                                             Measurement and Data in the Governance of Illicit Activities

June 14-15, 2012
8th Viterbo GAL Seminar, Indicators in Global Governance: Legal Dimensions
Rome, Italy

June 3-4, 2011
The Research Network on Indicators will hold 3 panels on The Law and Society Association 2011 Annual Meeting to be held June 2-5 in San Francisco, CA.

June 5, 2011
IILJ Indicators Workshop
. Supported by National Science Foundation.
San Francisco, CA Information for Participants

September 13-14, 2010
Conference: Indicators as a Technology of Global Governance - a meeting of academics, practitioners, NGO representatives, and policy makers. Supported by Carnegie Corporation of New York.

September 15, 2010
IILJ Indicators Workshop
. Supported by National Science Foundation.
NYU School of Law, NY

April 26-27, 2010
Indicators Conference: Midiendo el Derecho: el uso de indicadores en el ejercicio poder global - a meeting of academics, practitioners, NGO representatives and government officials. Event flyer, agenda and conference webpages (Spanish).
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia.

December 2008 IILJ Indicators Workshop report


Recent IILJ papers on indicators:

IILJ Working Papers:

Emerging Scholars Papers: