Peer Review: A Tool for Co-operation and Change

This paper, which has been prepared by Fabrizio Pagani with the assistance of colleagues in the Legal Directorate and contributions from other Services and Directorates, examines the practice of peer review and peer pressure in the context of international organisations. In particular, the paper studies the experience of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which conducts dozens of county and thematic examinations using the peer review methodology every year.

The study starts by defining peer review as the systematic examination and assessment of the performance of a State by other States, with the ultimate goal of helping the reviewed State improve its policy making, adopt best practices, and comply with established standards and principles. The paper then clarifies the related concept of peer pressure, and proceeds to examine the main component of a peer review exercise: the institutional basis, the principles and criteria according to which the review is conducted, the actors, and the procedures. The last section outlines the role that peer reviews can play and sets out the conditions under which they can strengthen co-operation and bring change. Finally, the Annexes present the different peer review studies undertaken in the Organisation.”

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