Courtesy Human Rights Measurement Initiative

Human Rights: Measuring what matters!

Author of HRMI article Nov 2018

Thalia Kehoe Rowden, Human Rights Measurement Initiative Communications Lead

Thalia Kehoe Rowden

Communications Lead, Human Rights Measurement Initiative

Motu Economic and Public Policy Research

How good is Guatemala or Greenland at respecting human rights? Who are the best performers in the world, and the worst? What are New Zealand’s or Nigeria’s main human rights challenges? Where should activists, investors and ambassadors target their influence? A new NGO, the Human Rights Measurement Initiative, is answering these questions.

Measuring what matters

Until now the world hasn’t had a simple, transparent way to monitor how people are treated. This was a problem. As Transparency International members know very well, when something is not measured, it is easily overlooked and undervalued.

The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) is filling this gap. We produce a free, easy-to-access database of metrics, summarising human rights performance in countries around the world. With a good set of measures, it will be easier to improve human rights.

Human rights performance in Saudi-Arabia

Credit: April-Brady Project on Middle-East Democracy

Jamal Khashoggi
Right of freedom from torture

Data in action

HRMI data, scores and graphs are freely available and particularly useful for journalists, human rights practitioners, governments and researchers. We can show, for example, that Saudi Arabia’s recent killing of journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, is not an outlier, but part of a pattern of human rights abuses.

HRMI data shows that Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers contributed to its poor human rights scores, something that can help advocates make the case for more humane policies. Users can also compare different countries, harnessing a competitive spirit to show, for example, that Australia is performing much worse than New Zealand on several of the rights we measure.

We want to see countries competing to see who can treat their people the best.

A global team

We’re an international team working for global change.

Co-founder Anne-Marie Brook, is a former OECD economist based in Wellington, New Zealand. Frustrated by the lack of human rights data available for investors and economists, she realised there was a bigger problem. She teamed up with two American human rights experts, Dr Susan Randolph, who leads our Economic and Social Rights measurement work, and Dr K Chad Clay, our Civil and Political Rights lead, to develop the world’s first initiative to track the human rights performance of countries.

Through partnerships and a series of co-design workshops with human rights practitioners from dozens of countries, we have developed measurement and data tools for 12 key human rights. Our global team of experts is ever-expanding. All our data are freely available, and users can search by country, region or right to explore data that will help them in their work.

Here are some of the ways information is presented on the Human Rights Measurement Initiative data site.  Anne-Marie Brook is leading the work:

Summary of human rights performance in New Zealand, HRMI 2018 
Right to education in The Americas
Right to freedom from disappearance

Transparency International New Zealand, PO Box 10123, The Terrace Wellington, 6143 New Zealand Copyright © Transparency International New Zealand 2009 - 2019.
Website design and marketing from