Measuring human rights: facing a necessary challenge

Essay by Eduardo Burkle: “Given the abundance of data available today, many assume the world already has enough accurate metrics on human rights performance. However, the political sensitivity of human rights has proven a significant barrier to access. Governments often avoid producing and sharing this type of information.

States’ compliance with their human rights obligations often receives a lot of attention. But there is still much discussion about how to measure it. At the same time, statistics and data increasingly drive political and bureaucratic decisions. This, in turn, brings some urgency to the task of ensuring the best possible data are available.

Establishing cross-national human rights measures is vital for research, advocacy, and policymaking. It can also have a direct effect on people’s enjoyment of human rights. Good data allow states and actors to evaluate how well their country is performing. It also lets them make comparisons that highlight which policies and institutions are truly effective in promoting human rights.

Good human rights data does more than simply evaluate how well a country is performing – it also identifies which policies and institutions are truly effective in promoting human rights

Such context makes it crucial to arm researchers, journalists, advocates, practitioners, investors, and companies with reliable information when raising human rights issues in their countries, and around the world…(More)”.