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← Let's measure what we treasure: human rights | Anne-Marie Brook | TEDxWellington

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Showing Revision 17 created 09/17/2019 by Leonardo Silva.

  1. You understand the importance of light
    and the truth, right?
  2. Imagine a world without them.
  3. I’m here to talk about
    how we need more, of both.
  4. I’m going to start with a true story
  5. about the kinds of things that happen
  6. when too much of the world
    is operating in darkness.
  7. On a warm October day in 2018,
  8. a Saudi Arabian journalist
    called Jamal Khashoggi
  9. walked into the
    Saudi Consulate in Istanbul,
  10. to get some papers he needed
    to marry his Turkish fiancée.
  11. She waited outside for him for hours.
  12. She never saw him again.
  13. You may remember hearing about this case,

  14. because it made headlines
    around the world.
  15. We know from a number
    of different investigations
  16. that Saudi government agents
    went into the consulate,
  17. killed Mr. Khashoggi
  18. and dismembered his body.
  19. Let me be clear about what I just said.
  20. Government agents killed a journalist
    to silence his truths.
  21. These kinds of happenings are both
    shocking and surprisingly common.
  22. But I’m pretty sure
    that if the Saudi government had known
  23. that this case would make
    headlines worldwide,
  24. and stay there for weeks,
  25. they wouldn’t have done it, right?
  26. They wanted to commit
    their crimes in the dark,
  27. not in broad daylight for all to see.
  28. Which raises some questions.
  29. What if we could shine a brighter light
  30. on the world’s injustices
    and wrong-doings?
  31. And what if, by doing so, we could
    incentivise governments everywhere
  32. to treat people with more respect
  33. and listen to the voices of their critics
    rather than silencing them?
  34. This is the world
    that I’m working to create.
  35. I’d like you to take a moment -
  36. you’re welcome to close your eyes -
  37. and ask yourself this question:
  38. what is it that you and your family need
  39. to live in dignity and fulfill
    your potential as human beings?
  40. You might be thinking about good food
    or a roof over your head,
  41. access to healthcare or education,
  42. or a good job, or social security,
  43. or you might be thinking about
    the freedom to be yourself
  44. and speak your mind without fear
    of arrest, torture, imprisonment or worse.
  45. These things are not luxuries.
    They are human rights.
  46. They have been defined and set out
    in international human rights law.
  47. Countries have made promises
    to respect them.
  48. But until now,
  49. no one has been tracking
    how well each country is doing
  50. on making sure every person
    is able to enjoy each human right.
  51. I know, I was surprised to learn this too.
  52. For 20 years, I was an economist.
  53. In the mid-2000s, I was working
    at the OECD in Paris,
  54. giving economic policy advice
    to governments.
  55. I really loved my job.
  56. I found it super interesting to look at
    each country through the economist lens
  57. and figure out what advice to offer.
  58. But there was one problem.
  59. In every country, there were
    human rights violations.
  60. I was reading about mistreatment
    of Kurds in Turkey
  61. and Roma in Slovakia,
  62. and I was always kind of looking for ways
  63. that I could try and bring these
    human rights issues into my reports.
  64. But there was only so far I could go,
  65. because when economists give advice,
  66. it always has to be based
    on empirical evidence,
  67. and what I learned is that there was
    no comprehensive database
  68. tracking the human rights
    performance of countries.
  69. This is a problem.
  70. This was a problem.
  71. When you’re assessing
    the state of the world,
  72. chances are you’re going to be looking
    first at the things you’ve got data for:
  73. income per person,
    trade and investment flows,
  74. carbon emissions ...
  75. It’s very difficult for any government
  76. to put human rights
    at the heart of its agenda,
  77. if they don’t have the data they need.
  78. After that, I just couldn’t let go
    of the fact that there was this data gap.
  79. A few years later,
    after moving back to New Zealand,
  80. I can remember being at home
    with my son when he was little,
  81. and after putting him to bed
    for his afternoon nap,
  82. I felt this magnetic pull
    back to the computer
  83. where I was researching
    who was measuring human rights.
  84. I was contacting the world’s experts
    and asking them questions.
  85. Why were human rights
    not being systematically measured?
  86. Could it be done?
  87. Lots of the emails I sent got no reply.
  88. But many of them did.
  89. There were a few people who told me
  90. that this idea of systematically
    tracking human rights
  91. was a good idea, but too ambitious

  92. Only one or two people told me
    it was impossible, ridiculous even.
  93. I wasn’t too bothered.
  94. My philosophy was to go
    where the energy was.
  95. And by following the energy,
  96. I linked up with two super clever
    human rights academics
  97. who shared my vision,
  98. Susan Randolph and Chad Clay,
  99. and together we founded the
    Human Rights Measurement Initiative,
  100. or HRMI (pronounced 'hermi') for short.
  101. Even before HRMI had $1 of funding,
  102. we’ve been working with human rights
    practitioners from around the world
  103. to make sure that we produce data
  104. that accurately reflects the situation
    on the ground in different countries.
  105. Our goal is to make sure
    that you can see more
  106. than just those few headline cases,
    like Mr. Khashoggi's,
  107. that make it into the news.
  108. We are turning on
    more lights around the world.
  109. I feel both privileged and humbled
    to be able to do the work that I do
  110. because I know that in many other
    countries around the world
  111. human rights defenders are putting
    their lives at risk every single day,
  112. just for documenting
    the injustices that they see.
  113. So I’m really pleased that HRMI is
    helping to amplify the voices
  114. of these amazing people
  115. so that their work can have more impact.
  116. And I’m really pleased
    that the collective vision that HRMI has
  117. is no longer just a vision;
    it’s now a collective endeavour.
  118. We already have hundreds of human rights
    practitioners around the world
  119. contributing, on a volunteer basis,
    their time and knowledge
  120. to help turn on more lights,
    fill these data gaps,
  121. bring more attention
    to what really matters.
  122. So how do we measure the human rights
    performance of countries?
  123. So far, we’ve got two main methodologies.
  124. First, whenever possible,
    we use publicly available statistics.
  125. For Quality of Life rights,
  126. things like the rights to food,
    education, health, housing and work,
  127. this gives us really great
    country coverage.
  128. This map shows, in blue, all 169 countries
  129. where we are tracking country performance
    on the right to health.
  130. A lot of the statistical indicators
    that we look at are the same ones
  131. used to monitor the United Nations'
    Sustainable Development Goals.
  132. But here’s the difference:
    we don’t just look at the raw statistics.
  133. We do something much more vital.
  134. We convert them into numbers that make
    sense from a human rights perspective.
  135. To do this, we have adopted
    an award-winning approach
  136. that was developed by my HRMI co-founder,
    Susan, and her colleagues.
  137. And what it does is it judges
    each country by a different benchmark
  138. depending on that country’s
    level of income.
  139. So both richer countries
    and poorer countries will get low scores
  140. if they’re not using
    their available resources
  141. as effectively as other countries
    at those income levels have done;
  142. for example, to bring about
    good health outcomes.
  143. This approach is genius,
  144. not only because it measures
    how countries are doing
  145. on the basis of how these rights are
    defined in international law,
  146. but also because it’s just logical.
  147. It makes sense to hold high income
    countries to a higher standard of account
  148. for their health outcomes
  149. than poorer countries, right?
  150. Second, for civil and political rights,
    we collect the data ourselves.
  151. These rights include all sorts of things
  152. from killings and torture
    to voting rights and free speech.
  153. You might be surprised to learn
    that these are all things
  154. that official statistics
    just don’t keep track of.
  155. So we brought in experts
    from Amnesty International,
  156. organisations like Human Rights Watch,
  157. and together we developed an expert survey
    so that we could collect this information
  158. from people who are monitoring events
    on the ground in each country.
  159. We’re really happy with how well
    our expert survey is working out.
  160. So far, we have data
    for these 19 countries,
  161. and that number is growing every year.
  162. Most importantly, people tell us
  163. that our scores accurately reflect
    the situation on the ground
  164. in the countries that they
    are knowledgeable about.
  165. Let me introduce you
    to some of our data insights
  166. by sharing with you one quiz question.
  167. 'Which of these countries performs best
  168. on respecting the right to freedom
    from extrajudicial execution?
  169. Jordan, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia,
    the United States or Mexico?'
  170. Now, while you think about it,
  171. just let me give you
    a little more information.
  172. First, a definition:
  173. extrajudicial killings are killings
    by government agents,
  174. like what happened to Mr. Khashoggi,
  175. but more commonly things
    like police shootings.
  176. And let me also tell you a little more
    about where the scores come from.
  177. In February and March this year,
  178. we sent our expert survey
    to people monitoring human rights
  179. in all five of these
    countries, and others,
  180. and each person told us
    how well they think their country is doing
  181. on respecting this right, and others.
  182. And we use some really sophisticated
    statistical techniques
  183. for ensuring that different
    people’s responses
  184. can be made comparable with one another.
  185. Okay, so do you have in mind
  186. what you think the answer
    to this question is?
  187. The answer is Jordan.
  188. And here you can see the scores
    for all five of these countries.
  189. The little vertical solid lines
    that you see are our best estimate
  190. of what the score is for each country.
  191. Countries with wider uncertainty bands,
    like Saudi Arabia’s,
  192. tell us that we are less certain
    exactly where the true score lies,
  193. perhaps because there may
    have been less agreement
  194. among the respondents who filled in
    our survey for Saudi Arabia.
  195. Narrower uncertainty bands, like Mexico’s,
  196. tell us that we are more certain
    about what the score is for that country.
  197. The overlap of the bands is important.
  198. We can be confident that Jordan
    is performing better than Venezuela
  199. because their bands don’t overlap.
  200. We're less confident exactly
    what the relative ranking would be
  201. of the countries that come next.
  202. Of course this is just a subset of all
    the countries we have data for.
  203. Let me add in some more.
  204. Here you can see New Zealand, Australia,
    South Korea and the United Kingdom.
  205. No country gets a perfect score
  206. because in every country,
    even New Zealand,
  207. there is room for improvement.
  208. How is this information useful?
  209. HRMI is not an advocacy organisation,
  210. so we don’t tell governments
    what they could be doing differently.
  211. But you can use our data for that purpose.
  212. So let’s say your country
    had a lowish score,
  213. so it’s down this end of the scale,
  214. and you want to move it that way.
  215. What can you do?
  216. I’m sure the possibilities are endless,
    but let’s just discuss a few.
  217. You could encourage your country to embark
    on the challenging but vital task
  218. of retraining your police force.
  219. You could meet with vulnerable
    and minority groups
  220. and take their advice
    on how to reform your institutions.
  221. You could look at the laws and policies
    of your better-performing neighbours
  222. and you could also choose to do better.
  223. We have a scoreboard like this for eight
    different civil and political rights,
  224. and for each one of them,
    for each country and for each right,
  225. we also collect information
    on what is driving their scores.
  226. So let’s say you wanted to know
  227. why the United States
    is performing so poorly on this right.
  228. You could learn that part of the reason
  229. is because there are too many
    police shootings of people of colour.
  230. Our US experts told us
  231. that the people who are most at risk of
    extrajudicial killing in the United States
  232. are African Americans,
  233. Latinx people,
  234. Native Americans,
  235. and children detained at the border.
  236. These insights I've shared
    from our database
  237. are just some of the thousands
    that you can find there,
  238. and that’s before we have even expanded
    our survey to all countries in the world.
  239. I know that all of this
    can feel quite heavy.
  240. That’s because it is.
  241. So I’m happy to share with you
  242. that we also have some
    really positive, good news stories
  243. in HRMI’s database as well.
  244. Here’s a good news chart
    from the Africa region.
  245. Each of the coloured sections
    shows you one Quality of Life right,
  246. and what you can see is there has been
    slow but gradual improvement
  247. in the performance, on average,
    across the African continent.
  248. And the good news story gets even better
  249. because HRMI data also show
    a gradual trend improvement
  250. in the fulfillment of these rights
    in all regions of the world.
  251. This is a really positive
    human rights story.
  252. I love it and it fills me
    with a lot of hope.
  253. One thing that I’ve noticed
  254. since making my career transition
    from economist to co-founder of HRMI,
  255. is that when I catch up
    with old friends and I tell them
  256. that what I’m now doing is measuring
    the human rights performance of countries,
  257. I sometimes get these
    kind of somewhat blank looks.
  258. When I used to tell people that I was
    helping to improve economic performance,
  259. I would get more nods of understanding.
  260. And I get it.
  261. The economy is really well measured.
    People are used to hearing about it.
  262. By contrast, human rights have been
    under-reported, under-measured
  263. and overlooked for too long.
  264. Let’s change that.
  265. Shedding a light on human rights
  266. and bringing about a massive change
    in the way our world works
  267. is a huge global collaborative challenge,
  268. and you can help.
  269. We have started by shedding
    a light on your country.
  270. What does it reveal that you can act on?
  271. What will you demand of your leaders?
  272. What other countries can inspire yours
  273. to better and bolder respect
    for human rights?
  274. What if world’s leaders summoned
    their advisors and demanded answers?
  275. What if they said not just, ‘Tell me how
    to improve our economic performance!’,
  276. but, ‘Tell me how to improve
    our human rights performance'?
  277. Numbers are not as sexy as stories.
  278. They don’t pull on the heartstrings
  279. in the same way.
  280. But each one helps to light up our world,
    showing us the way ahead.
  281. Numbers help us figure out
    what needs to change, and how.
  282. Let’s build a world
    where countries are competing,
  283. not just in sport and to see
    who can be the richest,
  284. but to see who can treat
    their people the best.
  285. Let’s measure what we treasure.
  286. Thank you.
  287. (Applause)