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Measuring Human Rights: Principle, Practice and Policy

From: Human Rights Quarterly
Volume 26, Number 4, November 2004
pp. 906-931 | 10.1353/hrq.2004.0049


This paper demonstrates why human rights measurement is important, how human rights have been measured to date, and how such measures can be improved in the future. Through focusing primarily but not exclusively on the measurement of civil and political rights, the paper argues that human rights can be measured in principle, in practice, and as outcomes of government policy. Such measures include the coding of formal legal documents, events-based, standards-based, and survey-based data, as well as aggregate indicators that serve as indirect measures of rights protection. The paper concludes by stressing the need for continued provision of high quality information at the lowest level of aggregation, sharing information and developing an ethos of replication, and long term investment in data collection efforts.