Human rights

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For human rights to improve, they need to be measured. Based in New Zealand, 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, and equipping human rights defenders with better data tools.

HRMI was founded by Anne-Marie Brook, K Chad Clay, and Susan Randolph. Brook is an economist based at Motu; Clay is a political scientist focusing on civil and political human rights based at the University of Georgia, USA; and Randolph is a development economist specialising in economic and social human rights, based at the University of Connecticut, USA.

They have now produced two annual updates of human rights scores for 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 2020 the number of survey countries will rise to over 30.

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 195 countries.

This data allows NGOs, international organisations, national human rights institutes, and members of the public or citizen sector groups to see the big picture more easily and assist them in promoting change. It also gives governments an objective perspective on their own performance, highlighting areas of strength and weakness. For in-depth information, please visit the HRMI website.

Why is HRMI based at Motu?

Since the 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, our goal is to help facilitate a step-change for the better in the lives of billions of people

HRMI's aim is to produce a suite of metrics that become the global go-to measures of human rights. But this is not an end in itself. 

By enabling a more rigorous and evidence-based approach, 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. More on HRMI's key activities and what it will produce is here.

Everything HMRI produces is freely and openly available online under a Creative Commons Attribution copyright licence.

Working Paper


Related Websites

How can human rights data contribute to economic development? A presentation by Anne-Marie Brook, K. Chad Clay and Susan Randolph at the OECD in April 2018

Meet the EHF Fellows: Anne-Marie Brook: A video introduction to Anne-Marie Brook and her work with HRMI.

NZ economist creates world first human rights tracker: A radio interview between Anne-Marie Brook and Kathryn Ryan of RNZ's Nine to Noon programme.

Among others, Motu is collaborating with the Human Rights Institute at the University of Connecticut and the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia.


Open Society Foundations,

Namaste Foundation