Skip to main content

Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics

In 1992, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) adopted the fundamental principles of official statistics in the UNECE region. The United Nations Statistical Commission adopted these principles in 1994 at the global level. The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) endorsed the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics in 2013; and in January 2014, they were adopted by General Assembly. This recognition at the highest political level underlines that official statistics - reliable and objective information - is crucial for decision making.
1. Relevance, impartiality and equal access

Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation. To this end, official statistics that meet the test of practical utility are to be compiled and made available on an impartial basis by official statistical agencies to honour citizens' entitlement to public information.

2. Professional standards and ethics

To retain trust in official statistics, the statistical agencies need to decide according to strictly professional considerations, including scientific principles and professional ethics, on the methods and procedures for the collection, processing, storage and presentation of statistical data.

3. Accountability and transparency

To facilitate a correct interpretation of the data, the statistical agencies are to present information according to scientific standards on the sources, methods and procedures of the statistics.

4. Prevention of misuse

The statistical agencies are entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.

5. Sources of official statistics

Data for statistical purposes may be drawn from all types of sources, be they statistical surveys or administrative records. Statistical agencies are to choose the source with regard to quality, timeliness, costs and the burden on respondents.

6. Confidentiality

Individual data collected by statistical agencies for statistical compilation, whether they refer to natural or legal persons, are to be strictly confidential and used exclusively for statistical purposes.

7. Legislation

The laws, regulations and measures under which the statistical systems operate are to be made public.

8. National coordination

Coordination among statistical agencies within countries is essential to achieve consistency and efficiency in the statistical system.

9. Use of international standards

The use by statistical agencies in each country of international concepts, classifications and methods promotes the consistency and efficiency of statistical systems at all official levels.

10. International cooperation

Bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries.



Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics in the UNECE region (1992), in English, French and Russian
What should a modern national system of official statistics look like? English and Russian