There have been many  attempts over the duration of the past decades to explore quantitatively,  which nations are “better” on the account of constitutional and human rights  of the people in their nations. Yet, there is further debate as to whether  the metrics selected to determine this are the best ones available. Simply  put, the question comes down to is whether the popular metrics even properly account for human rights.

Associate Professor at the University of Arizona College of Law, Andrew Keane  Woods makes the argument that popular metrics for measuring the “better” and  “worse” nations on account of human rights are simply failing at a  methodological level. For example, the studies tend to look at nations over a  relatively short time frame. Ignoring the fact that in many cases public  policy takes decades to move towards acknowledging basic rights for citizens.

The best example that Woods makes is the example of China. That nation has  consistently ranked in the low-200s on the Human Rights Record. Even the most  casual of observers on China would know that certainly progress has been made  on both civil and socioeconomic rights for Chinese citizens. The Human Rights  Record is a useful tool for many, but can trend towards assuming that the the  country has “failed” on a metric of measurement when it has in fact not.  Simply, there needs to be the introduction of more nuanced metrics for  understanding the progress, or lack thereof, that has been made by individual  nations on the expansion and recognition of human rights by all nations.

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