For human rights to improve, they need to be measured.
With one base in in New Zealand, one in the United States, and operating internationally, the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) is the first global project to track the human rights performance of countries around the world.
HRMI’s ultimate goal is to make people’s lives better by encouraging more respect for human rights. HRMI’s role in this global mission is to equip human rights defenders, governments, investors, media, and people in general with better data tools. HRMI’s annual scores help people better understand how governments are treating people, and press for improvements.
HRMI was founded by Anne-Marie Brook, K Chad Clay, and Susan Randolph. Brook is an economist and Fellow at Motu, heading up a small operations team in Wellington. Clay is a political scientist focusing on civil and political human rights, and measurement methodology, based at the University of Georgia (UGA), in the United States, where he is also the director of UGA’s Center for the Study of Global Issues (GLOBIS), which is HRMI’s main US base of operations. Randolph is a development economist specialising in economic and social human rights, and Professor Emerita at the University of Connecticut, US.
HRMI has now produced four annual datasets of human rights scores for approximately 200 countries around the world, which are publicly available on their Rights Tracker.
New data and data viz tool
HRMI collects its own data for civil and political rights, using a survey of human rights experts in each country. In 2021 there were 39 countries in the survey; more are added each year as funding is secured.
HRMI also uses Dr Randolph’s award-winning SERF Index methodology to compare countries’ performance on economic and social rights with their level of income. The Rights Tracker currently has economic and social rights scores for around 195 countries.
The data are freely available, presented on HRMI’s Rights Tracker. The team is constantly iterating to improve and refine the Rights Tracker in response to user testing and feedback. HRMI has a growing collection of videos and articles to help people make the most of the Rights Tracker.
What gets measured gets improved
HRMI’s human rights scores allow NGOs, international organisations, national human rights institutes, the private sector, and members of the public or civil society groups to see the big picture more easily and assist them in promoting change. They also give governments an objective perspective on their own performance, highlighting areas of strength and weakness. For in-depth information, please visit the HRMI website.
HRMI’s connection with Motu Research
Since documenting governments’ successes and failures in promoting human rights is inherently sensitive, credible measures of human rights need to be constructed independently of government and with a very high degree of transparency.
As a highly respected independent charitable trust with good international connections, Motu is well placed to co-host this work. In addition, New Zealand is highly respected on the world stage for our human rights record and is an ideal country in which to base independent and transparent reporting.
Together, HRMI’s goal is to help facilitate a step-change for the better in the lives of billions of people
As HRMI grows, HRMI’s aim is to further expand its suite of metrics, so that it covers all countries, and all rights in international law. But this is not an end in itself.
By enabling a more rigorous and evidence-based approach to human rights monitoring, HRMI’s vision is to help to deepen understanding of what works and what doesn’t, in order to facilitate more effective and collaborative solutions to complex global human rights challenges.
Everything HMRI produces is freely and openly available online under a Creative Commons Attribution copyright licence.