HRMI? Her-me? Her-mi?
‘The Human Rights Measurement Initiative’ is a bit of a mouthful, so we call it HRMI for short, pronounced ‘her-mee’.
“Comparative data on countries’ human rights performance is a useful way to hold governments to account. The Human Rights Measurement Initiative’s work depends on cooperation from human rights defenders everywhere to develop and share the best possible data and to make use of the results.”
– Ken Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
HRMI is the first global project to track the human rights performance of countries. One of the main ways we do this is with our annual data collection through the annual HRMI survey.
As Ken Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch says, “Comparative data on countries’ human rights performance is a useful way to hold governments to account. The Human Rights Measurement Initiative’s work depends on cooperation from human rights defenders everywhere to develop and share the best possible data and to make use of the results.”
This year we are running the survey in 42 countries: American Samoa, Angola, Australia, Brazil, Cook Islands, Democratic Republic of Congo, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Hong Kong, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Solomon Islands, South Korea, Taiwan, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, United Kingdom, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Wallis & Futuna.
Here’s how the survey works, and how you might be able to take part.
Why a survey?
The most accurate information on any country’s overall human rights situation comes from local and regional human rights workers.
We have developed a special online questionnaire which asks human rights workers around the world the same questions about how well their government respects human rights in their country.
Our Civil and Political Rights Lead Dr K Chad Clay leads a team of political scientists at the University of Georgia who have designed the survey carefully, and who analyse the data that come in from our survey respondents. They use advanced statistical techniques to ensure cross-country comparability and calculate measures of certainty for each country score. You can read more about the survey methodology here.
Is taking part worth your time?
Taking part in HRMI’s annual data collection is a win-win activity. Your investment of 30-60 minutes sharing your knowledge with us means that your country will have world-leading data and metrics independently detailing the human rights situation. The more human rights workers that take part, the stronger the data will be.
Anyone can access all our data, for free, at our Rights Tracker.
Human rights monitors and defenders can use our data, along with other evidence from their own work, to show governments where there is room for improvement, and even create a bit of healthy competition with similar countries.
Who can participate?
Our survey respondents are human rights researchers and practitioners who are monitoring events in any of the countries we’re collecting data in. The kinds of people we’re looking for include:
- Human rights workers (researchers, analysts, other practitioners) whose job is to monitor civil and political rights in a survey country. They could be working for an international or domestic NGO or civil society organisation.
- Human rights lawyers.
- Journalists covering human rights issues in a survey country.
- Staff working for the National Human Rights Institution (NHRI) of a survey country, ONLY if it is fully compliant with the Paris Principles including being completely independent in fulfilling its mandate.
What if I’m not an expert on all questions in the survey? Can I opt in only to the questions that I feel I am knowledgeable about?
Don’t worry – we know most people aren’t experts in all the areas we’ll be asking about.
Our survey model takes this into account, and assumes that answers come from people with a range of expertise. We’ve designed the survey so that we will get better data if everyone answers all the questions, than if people choose just the areas they feel most knowledgeable about.
One very good reason for this is that psychological research has found that people aren’t always very good judges of how knowledgeable they are. If we let people choose to answer only some questions, we might miss out on responses from people who could provide helpful information.
As someone who works in human rights, you probably know much more than the average person about most areas of human rights, even if you’re not an expert in every area. So we encourage you to please go ahead and answer all questions, drawing on whatever knowledge you have. Our methodology has been designed specifically to cope with a mix of responses – some coming from people who are more expert than others.
Do survey respondents have to be living in the country they’re giving information on?
In most cases survey respondents are living in the country they are providing information on, but there are exceptions.
The more the country is inhospitable to human rights defenders (e.g. Saudi Arabia) or in crisis (e.g. DRC, Venezuela) the more survey respondents are likely to be based elsewhere.
Also, some human rights researchers for NGOs are responsible for monitoring more than one country, so they will be qualified to answer questions about countries they don’t live in.
Who shouldn’t take the survey?
To ensure our independence and avoid conflicts of interest, we do not collect information from government officials or from staff working at government-organised NGOs.
We are looking for respondents who have access to primary sources and are often the first points of contact for human rights information on the ground. For this reason, we do not invite human rights academics to be survey respondents unless they are also practitioners, working with primary sources of information.
We also don’t recruit victims of human rights violations whose human rights knowledge comes only from their personal experiences.
Can one person respond on behalf of their organisation?
No. Survey responses should always represent the knowledge and interpretation of the person filling out the survey, and not a collective view of a group of colleagues or the official position of the organisation for whom they work. The more individual respondents the better, as different people will have different knowledge bases, and by drawing on all of those we are able to use the differences in responses to calculate certainty bands around our scores.
I’ve been invited to participate. What’s the next step?
If you’ve been invited to participate in the survey for your country, you will have been sent a link to a secure registration/consent form. Please fill it in. It takes about 30 seconds. Everyone who has registered will then be sent a unique single-use link to the survey itself.
If you have been invited to take part, we encourage you to suggest other colleagues or contacts who can also be survey respondents. You can do so by recommending them to your country’s HRMI Ambassador, or emailing HRMI at email@example.com . There will also be a space in the survey itself to nominate other potential survey respondents.
The survey links will be sent out in February and March.
How do I make sure I receive the survey?
We have heard from some people that the HRMI survey email has been automatically filtered to their spam email folder. To avoid this risk please add our domain name (@humanrightsmeasurement.org) to your safe senders’ list. Doing this will ensure that the survey is delivered to your inbox.
Are my details safe with HRMI?
We take our survey respondents’ safety and information security extremely seriously. You can read here how we work to make sure the information you give us in the registration form is kept confidential.
The survey itself is confidential and anonymous so there is no way for anyone to connect your answers with your name.
What’s the role of the HRMI Ambassadors?
We can’t vet every potential respondent personally to make sure they’re appropriate people who have the information we need. We rely on HRMI Ambassadors to contact as many potential survey respondents as they can in their country, and help with other parts of the survey roll-out, like checking local language translations. When Ambassadors contact local practitioners who then nominate other potential survey respondents, that is what we call the snowball effect.
In other words, our HRMI Ambassadors start the snowball rolling by approaching potential survey respondents and inviting them to participate. Then we ask all of those people to suggest more names.
Our Ambassadors are an enormous help! You can meet those of our Ambassadors whose names are public on our team page.
Here’s a short video interview with our Ambassador for Mozambique, David Matsinhe, who is an Amnesty International researcher, specialising in monitoring the Lusophone countries of Southern Africa:
Several of our ambassadors feature in other videos on our YouTube channel.
Our cutting-edge data and metrics rely on hundreds of human rights workers around the world offering us their time and knowledge. We appreciate it enormously.
If you are taking part in the HRMI survey, we offer you sincere and warm thanks. We couldn’t do this without you.