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Political Science


Comparative quantitative assessment of human rights is hampered by the length of the list of internationally recognized rights. Not only is the list so long that it is hard to imagine gathering adequate data without an army of researchers (the International Human Rights Covenants contain more than thirty substantive articles, encompassing at least twice as many separate rights), but the results of such a comprehensive effort would almost certainly be overwhelming and bewildering in their complexity. In this article we try to narrow the list of rights concerning which it is necessary to gather data by establishing a theoretical framework for assessing a state’s human rights performance. We identify a relatively small set of ten essential rights that separately are intrinsically essential and together provide good proxies for almost all other rights. An assessment of national performance on these ten rights, we argue, will approximate a comprehensive assessment of a country’s overall human rights record.


Copyright © 1988 The Johns Hopkins University Press. This article first appeared in Human Rights Quarterly 10.2 (1988), 214-248. Reprinted with permission by The Johns Hopkins University Press.