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New data tool scores Australia and other countries on their human rights performance

K. Chad Clay writes in The Conversation (6.4.18) that, despite the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights 70 years ago, it remains difficult to measure governments' performance on this important aspect of civil society. The author outlines a new data tool which gives countries a scorecard on how well, or badly, they are doing on this measure.

'This year, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights will mark its 70th anniversary, but despite progress in some areas, it remains difficult to measure or compare governments’ performance. We have yet to develop comprehensive human rights measures that are accepted by researchers, policymakers and advocates alike.

'With this in mind, my colleagues and I have started the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), the first global project to develop a comprehensive suite of metrics covering international human rights.

'We have now released our beta dataset and data visualisation tools, publishing 12 metrics that cover five economic and social rights and seven civil and political rights.

'... Australia performs quite well on some indicators, but quite poorly on others. Looking at civil and political rights, Australia demonstrates high respect for the right to be free from execution, but does much worse on the rights to be free from torture and arbitrary arrest.

'Our respondents often attributed this poor performance on torture and imprisonment to the treatment of refugees, immigrants and asylum seekers, as well as Indigenous peoples, by the Australian government.

'Looking across the economic and social rights, Australia shows a range of performance, doing quite well on the right to food, but performing far worse on the right to work.'


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