1st Edition

Quantitative Human Rights Measures and Measurement Current Debates and Future Directions

Edited By Mark Gibney, Peter Haschke Copyright 2023

    In this edited volume, leading experts of human rights measurement address the challenges scholarship of human rights face as well as explore approaches and means to overcoming them.

    The book seeks to further answer three specific and related questions.  First, what do existing measures of human rights conditions tell us about the state of human rights? Are conditions improving or deteriorating?  Second, how might scholars improve their measurement efforts and observe states’ human rights practices given efforts by governments to hide human rights abuses and to make them essentially “unobservable”? Finally, what challenges might scholars encounter in the future as the conceptualization of human rights develops and changes, and as new methods and technologies (e.g., natural language processing, machine learning) are introduced into the study of human rights?  

    This book will be of interest to students and scholars of human rights politics, power, development, and governance. The chapters in this book were originally published as a special issue of Journal of Human Rights.

    Introduction: Quantitative Human Rights Measures

    Mark Gibney and Peter Haschke

    1. Changing standards or political whim? Evaluating changes in the content of US State Department Human Rights Reports following presidential transitions

    Rebecca Cordell, K. Chad Clay, Christopher J. Fariss, Reed M. Wood and Thorin M. Wright

    2. Path dependence and human rights improvement

    David Cingranelli and Mikhail Filippov

    3. What bias? Changing standards, information effects, and human rights measurement

    Peter Haschke and Daniel Arnon

    4. ‘Who did what for whom?’ Amnesty International’s Urgent Actions as activist-generated data

    Ann Marie Clark and Bi Zhao

    5. Human rights data for everyone: Introducing the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI)

    Anne-Marie Brook, K. Chad Clay and Susan Randolph

    6. Advocacy output: Automated coding documents from human rights organizations

    Amanda Murdie, David R. Davis and Baekkwan Park

    7. How to teach machines to read human rights reports and identify judgments at scale

    Baekkwan Park, Kevin Greene and Michael Colaresi

    8. Introducing DyoRep: A database of perpetrator–victim dyads within repressive spells

    Christian Davenport

    9. Words count: Discourse and the quantitative analysis of international norms

    Carla Winston


    Mark Gibney is the Belk Distinguished Professor of Humanities and Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Asheville. He is a co-director of the Political Terror Scale Human Rights data collection project.

    Peter Haschke is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina, Asheville and co-director of the Political Terror Scale project.