Conference of European Statisticians (CES) and the Bureau

The Conference of European Statisticians (CES) is one of the principal intergovernmental bodies of the UNECE, representing a governance body for the UNECE statistical work programme. It is an institution of international cooperation, made up of the executive heads of the national statistical services of the 56 UNECE member countries, with the additional participation of the Chief Statisticians of Australia, Japan, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand and Republic of Korea. The major international organizations active in statistics in the UNECE region also participate in the work of the Conference.

The CES meets for its plenary session in June of each year. Papers and presentations for these meetings are available online.

The main objectives of the Conference of European Statisticians are:

  1. To improve national statistics and their international comparability with regard to the recommendations of the Statistical Commission of the United Nations, the Specialised Agencies and other appropriate bodies as necessary
  2. to promote close coordination of the statistical activities in Europe of international organizations so as to achieve greater uniformity in concepts and definitions and to reduce to a minimum the burdens on national statistical offices
  3. to respond to any emerging need for international statistical cooperation both within the UNECE region and between the UNECE region and other regions
  4. to discuss and adopt statistical standards in UNECE region.

The ‘Bureau’ is the executive board of the CES. It consists of a Chairperson and six Vice-Chairs, who are elected by the Conference, and serve for a two-year period. In addition, the heads of statistical services in key international organizations (OECD, Eurostat, UNSD, CIS-STAT, World Bank and IMF) are permanent observers of the Bureau. The Bureau meets twice a year to prepare decisions and recommendations for the Conference’s annual plenary session in June.


Fundamental principles of official statistics

Originally adopted by the Conference of European Statisticians in 1992, ten fundamental principles of official statistics were adopted internationally by the United Nations Statistical Commission in 1994. The principles are available in the six languages of the United Nations at

Principle 1. 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 honor citizens' entitlement to public information.

Principle 2. 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.

Principle 3. 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.

Principle 4. The statistical agencies are entitled to comment on erroneous interpretation and misuse of statistics.

Principle 5. 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.

Principle 6. 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.

Principle 7. The laws, regulations and measures under which the statistical systems operate are to be made public.

Principle 8. Coordination among statistical agencies within countries is essential to achieve consistency and efficiency in the statistical system.

Principle 9. 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.

Principle 10. Bilateral and multilateral cooperation in statistics contributes to the improvement of systems of official statistics in all countries.


Coordination of Statistical Activities

The Database of International Statistical Activities (DISA) is an important tool for coordination of international statistical work since its first issue in 1992. It is maintained by the UNECE and includes information on the current statistical activities of all the main international organisations active in statistics in the UNECE region. The database is updated each January to provide information for the current year.

Over 30 international organizations present their activities in DISA, providing the national statistical offices in the UNECE region with a unique reference source. These organizations include:


Work programme

The 2011 UNECE statistical work programme is available online. The majority of these activities are coordinated by the UNECE Statistical Division, with a limited number of activities coordinated by other divisions of the UNECE. These include activities relating to:


Meetings and Workshops

The UNECE Statistical Division coordinates approximately twenty meetings and workshops on various statistical subjects each year. A full list of forthcoming meetings is available online.


Overview of Task Forces, Steering Committees and Working Groups

There are currently 22 working groups involved in the delivery of the UNECE Statistical Division activities. These groups are established with clear terms of reference by the CES Bureau (link to the CES and Bureau section under the Management Issues tab).

Members of these groups are from national and international statistical agencies and other related organizations. The overview provides contact details for the UNECE staff member who is responsible for coordinating each group.