It is the first time the Fundamental Principles have received such high recognition at global political level; the decision has been described by Stefan Schweinfest, acting director of the UN’s statistics division, as a ‘historic moment for the global statistical system’.
The Fundamental Principles were drafted some 20 years by the Conference of European Statisticians as central European countries began to move towards being market-oriented democracies. In 1994, they were adopted by the United Nations Statistical Commission, which oversees the UN’s Statistics Division - the highest decision making body for coordinating international statistical activities and which brings together national or chief statisticians from member states around the world.
In 2011, the Statistical Commission acknowledged that the ten Principles were still as relevant today as ever, and that no revision was necessary. It did, however, recommend that a Friends of the Chair group revise and update the preamble of the Fundamental Principles, which were adopted by the Statistical Commission at its 44th session in 2013. The Principles have now been endorsed by the UN’s General Assembly.
The 20th anniversary of the Fundamental Principles and their endorsement will be celebrated at the next Statistical Commission session in March 2014; meanwhile the Friends of the Chair group will begin working on an implementation guide.
RSS President John Pullinger commented: 'Endorsement of the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics by the United Nations General Assembly makes a powerful statement about the importance of good statistics to effective democracy'.