Meet the EHF Fellows: Anne-Marie Brook

Meet the EHF Fellows: Anne-Marie Brook

– I’m Anne-Marie Brook, and
I’m one of the co-founders of the Human Rights
Measurement Initiative. We are a global collaborative project developing metrics for tracking the human rights performance of countries. (greets audience in foreign language) (audience responds) I’d like to introduce you to Abdulaziz, who is nine years old, and his little brother, Zahid. Abdulaziz and Zahid’s village in Myanmar was ransacked by Burmese soldiers. Amidst the chaos,
Abdulaziz grabbed the hand of his little brother,
and together they escaped by swimming across the river. Soldiers were shooting at them. People swimming next to them were hit. They got to the other side of
the river, they looked back, and they saw the soldiers
first kill their father and then take their mother
and their three siblings into a nearby house, which
was soon engulfed in flames. This true story, which was
documented by Human Rights Watch, is just one of thousands of
stories documented every year by human rights researchers
around the world. Stories are incredibly powerful. They touch us at a really deep level. But alone, they’re not
enough to bring about the change that we need. They need to be complemented
with something else. Being able to combine those stories with more quantitative measures
that can allow you to track performance over
time within a country and compare across countries,
that’s really powerful when you combine those
stories and that data. We don’t really have good databases of human rights performance at the moment. People are actually really
surprised to hear this, because we’ve got so much
data everywhere on everything that people, I think,
generally assume that there must already be a good database tracking human rights performance. We live in a world
where data and truth are increasingly under threat. In this context, I
believe that the work that HRMI’s doing is even more
important than ever before. We’re starting with the development of 12 human rights metrics. Five of them are measuring
economic and social rights. So that’s the four
bottom ones you see here plus the right to food. We’ve already developed
these for more than 120 countries going back 10 years. These metrics are based on official data that’s been harmonized by
international organizations. And we’re currently developing some data visualization tools to
make these more accessible. So we’ve developed an expert survey, which is going to human rights experts who are monitoring who we
have reason to believe know what’s going on in a country. They’ll fill in the survey. We’re currently piloting it in
13 countries around the world just so we can test how it works, figure out what glitches
there are, make improvements so we can do it better next time, and then also roll it out across
the rest of the world. If these metrics do end up being ignored, then we’re gonna stop producing them. Because the only reason
we’re producing them is because we want to have impact. Impact is our goal. What does impact look like? Impact looks like
investors using our metrics to help direct capital
flows more ethically. Impact looks like NGOs and international development organizations
using our metrics to make their advocacy more effective. Impact looks like governments asking their policy advisors not just
what they need to do to maximize GDP growth,
but what they need to do to get a better score on HRMI’s metrics. Human rights is an incredibly
broad and deep field. There’s tons of expertise we don’t have and other sorts of
support services as well in the technology space,
design space and so forth. So anyone, basically, who’s interested in working with us to help
co-create what we’re doing, we really want those
people to get in touch. We need storytellers who
can combine those stories with data because there’s
a lot of stories out there and I think what really
resonates with people is the combination of
stories and hard evidence. It’s also really difficult to come up with a sustainable funding source. We want all that data
to be freely available. Philanthropic donations and grants are the main source of funding
that we have currently. We need generic funding
to support our work over the next few years. If you just want to
toss some ideas around, come and chat to me. I’d also like to encourage
you to visit our website,,
for more information about what we’re doing and how. Thank you. (applause) (gentle percussive music)

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