OVERVIEW OF THE DATABASE

The committee has accomplished its goal of constructing the comprehensive structure of WebMILS, though currently the cells are not populated except for the data from one country. In an ideal world, the committee might have assessed all sources of information, both qualitative reports and quantitative data, based on a consistent set of criteria, and proposed for inclusion in the database only those sources that met these criteria. However, the reality is that both qualitative and quantitative sources of information are incomplete and suffer from a variety of quality problems. So, the database is designed to include all available information, from all possible sources.

Given the emphasis on legal frameworks and government performance, qualitative sources are essential. Such sources provide on-the-ground reporting on working conditions and workers’ rights. Ideally, such sources would be developed independently of the stakeholders directly involved—governments, employers, and workers—and would be prepared by experts in the field. But, as examined below, qualitative sources of information reflect the perspective of the reporters and may be biased in one direction or another. Some of these reports are complaint-driven, which can introduce selection bias, while others may be written by a committee, or skewed or muted for political reasons. They often lack consistency over time because many of these reports are ad hoc rather than regular and systematic. In developing countries with large informal sectors, both qualitative and quantitative sources are likely to be unrepresentative of conditions overall within an economy.

The order in which sources appear in the chapter is roughly the order in which assessors would retrieve evidence from WebMILS database to perform assessments and the order in which subsequent efforts to fill out the database should be conducted, based on criteria of independence and expertise and ready availability of information. Although no source is ideal, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is the obvious starting point for information on member countries’ laws and practices with respect to labor standards. We begin with the regular ILO supervisory process under Article 22 because it involves a committee of independent experts that publishes observations on areas of inconsistency between a country’s laws and its obligations under conventions that it has ratified. For countries that have not ratified the core conventions, the follow-up under the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work requires govern-



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