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How does your country score on human rights?

Graphic: Elderly woman

The Rights Tracker is a free, easy-to-access database of metrics, summarising human rights performance in countries around the world.

For human rights to improve, they need to be measured. The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) is a comprehensive and collaborative project bringing together the expertise of human rights practitioners around the world, and academics specialising in human rights measurement. 

HRMI has created the Rights Tracker, a free, easy-to-access database of metrics, summarising human rights performance in countries around the world. 

The HRMI’s current 13 metrics can be grouped into two broad categories: civil and political human rights and economic and social human rights

National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) can access the database to explore their country’s human rights scores, and compare scores across countries, rights and people.

The Rights Tracker’s reliable, independent and current data on human rights can inform an NHRI’s advocacy and research work, as shown in a recent study by the HRMI team, commissioned by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. 

For this project, HRMI researchers broke the rights to health and housing down into a large collection of indicators, from affordability and security of housing, to suicide rates and levels of rheumatic fever in the New Zealand population. 

Using the award-winning SERF Index methodology, the team then compared New Zealand's performance on each indicator with what was calculated to be feasible at its level of national income. 

The report found that:

  • Of the 12 housing outcomes examined, eight failed to improve over time, and five housing outcomes actually deteriorated over time.
  • Of the 23 health outcomes examined, 14 failed to improve over time.
  • The New Zealand government is failing to provide the minimum, essential levels of basic shelter and health care and protection in Aotearoa.

HRMI also looked at each indicator through a non-discrimination lens and found that several groups of New Zealanders were not being treated fairly. 

The team found, for example, that of the 11 right to housing outcomes that could be compared across population subgroups, nine showed clear breaches of the promise to ensure housing outcomes in a non-discriminatory way. In particular, New Zealand’s current housing market situation makes achieving good right to housing outcomes more difficult for Māori, Pacific Peoples, disabled people, people with low or no qualifications, the unemployed, and people from lower socioeconomic areas.

Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt said “Successive governments have signed up to rights to housing, health care and protection. These human rights are expected to be progressively put in place over time – often referred to as progressive realisation.

“For the first time, this ground-breaking report sets out a way to measure the progressive realisation of the rights to housing, health care and protection, so governments can be held accountable to binding international human rights obligations. We congratulate Motu Research [HRMI's host institution] for helping Aotearoa take this important step in our human rights journey.”

Any NHRI can contact HRMI to discuss relevant findings and commission region-specific research. Please contact Thalia Kehoe Rowden: thalia.kehoerowden@motu.org.nz

Date: 1 November 2021


Image credits

  1. Elderly woman - Human Rights Measurement Initiative