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International Institute for Religious Freedom Audits World Watch List

March 1, 2019

For the sixth time the World Watch List of Open Doors has been audited positively by a team of five scholars of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF). IIRF chose four countries and tracked the whole procedure, from the experts who answered the questionnaires, the editing process of the World Watch List Unit, through to the final scoring. Three scholars checked individual countries on which they themselves are experts, while others also checked the whole process.

As a result, IIRF submitted a list of proposals to improve depth of information on newly assessed countries and consistency from country to country. As in the previous four years, IIRF did not see a need to improve the questionnaire as such. “The questionnaire has been improved again and again and further changes are not a priority, rather the emphasis needs to be on guaranteeing the quality of the responses to the questionnaire particularly in countries newly under close scrutiny.”

This is the audit statement:

“The results of the Open Doors World Watch List 2019 are accurately presented by World Watch Research (WWR) within the parameters of precision reached in the processing of information. Country profiles give a thorough, detailed, and differentiated account of the discrimination and persecution of Christians.

In depth inspection of four sample countries selected by the auditors gave evidence that published methodology was diligently applied by WWR staff. Processes and most sources were thoroughly documented and have been made transparently available on request. The documentation mechanisms have been improved and the number of countries examined in-depth and presented has again been substantially increased which leads to a better coverage of sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Latin America and Europe.

The scoring accurately reflects the methodology and information processed. Nevertheless, the reliability of each country score always depends on the depth and quality of the information received in the reporting period. This may vary from country to country.

The methodology document (November 2017) describes various quality assurance measures by the WWR staff with regard to consistency in application of the questionnaire and methodology. WWR gave credible written description of how these were applied.

Additional statements, documents or interpretations by Open Doors International or the Open Doors national affiliates based on or associated with the publication of the World Watch List 2019 remain outside the scope of this audit statement.

IIRF has submitted a list of recommendations for potential future improvements to Open Doors.”

IIRF Co-Director Prof. Dr. Christof Sauer, who co-ordinated the audit team, remarked: “I am impressed by the collegiality of the Persecution Analysts of the World Watch Research Unit of Open Doors International. I note a remarkable openness for critical feedback and ongoing efforts to improve the World Watch List.”


Downloads and Links:

  • The original audit statement (pdf)
  • World Watch List 2019 Compilation (pdf)
  • Details on the methodology used in producing the annual World Watch List:
    • World Watch List Methodology – long version (pdf)
    • World Watch List Methodology – Appendices – Part 1 (pdf)
    • World Watch List Methodology – Appendices – Part 2 (pdf)
  • Website of the International Institute for Religious Freedom (IIRF): https://iirf.eu