Ethics & International Affairs Volume 15.1 (Spring 2001): Articles: Measuring Human Rights [Abstract]

May 4, 2001

The language of human rights is increasingly being advocated as a framework for policy dialogue. To make this feasible, indicators must be developed that help to hold the state accountable for its policies, that help to guide and improve policy, and that are sensitive to local contexts without sacrificing the commitment to the universality of rights. Can it be done?

This article examines ongoing attempts to devise indicators and argues that they are not based in a sufficiently clear conceptual framework. It argues for greater intelligibility in devising indicators concerning what they should be assessing, how to reflect the universalism of rights across different contexts, and how to weigh the conflicts of interest that characterize the public policy decision-making process.

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