Human rights are those rights you have simply because you are human. Such rights are “inherent in our nature” and “allow us to fully develop and use our human qualities, our intelligence, our talents and our conscience and to satisfy our spiritual and other needs” (United Nations 1987, 4).
How do we measure countries’ human rights performance?
We aim to be comprehensive by producing metrics that cover the rights embodied in international law, particularly the collection of international treaties known as the International Bill of Human Rights. These are internationally recognised human rights acknowledged by all United Nations member states.
These rights can be found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two core UN treaties that make those rights legally binding (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights) as well as other core UN treaties further elaborating those rights (for example, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the Convention against Torture).
To start with we are publishing metrics for the following 12 human rights:
Right to Opinion and Expression
Right to Assembly and Association
Right to Freedom from Execution
Right to Freedom from Torture
Right to Participate in Government
Right to Food
Right to Freedom from Arbitrary Arrest
Right to Freedom from Disappearance
Right to Education
Right to Health
Right to Housing
Right to Work
As we add to this list, new metrics will also be based on the content of the core international human rights treaties.
Our initial 12 metrics can be grouped into two broad categories: civil and political human rights and economic and social human rights. Each of these categories has its own methodology:
Measuring civil and political human rights
Our seven civil and political human rights metrics are based on information collected directly from human rights practitioners monitoring events in specific countries. This is a new methodology and we have performed a pilot study to develop these measures.
Measuring economic and social human rights
Our five economic and social human rights metrics are constructed from internationally comparable, publicly available, objective data, such as statistics on infant mortality and school enrolment. Our metrics show how each country is doing – on each of the five rights – relative to what is feasible for a country with that level of economic resources.
Methodology in depth
If our basic methodology summary leaves you asking more questions, please see the HRMI methodology handbook.
United Nations. 1987. Human Rights: Questions and Answers. New York: United Nations.