Thursday, August 29, 2013


The CIRI Human Rights Data Project has released its ratings of government respect for 16 internationally-recognized human rights in almost every country in the world for the year 2011.  The CIRI Project’s data stretch back, annually, to 1981 and can be freely accessed at

The CIRI data are used by governments, scholars, international organizations, businesses, think tanks, and students the world over for a variety of purposes.  The project is co-directed by Dr. David L. Cingranelli (Binghamton University), Dr. David L. Richards (University of Connecticut), and Dr. K. Chad Clay (University of Georgia). 

This data release has also been accompanied by a number of changes at the CIRI Project.  A new country was added to the data for 2011 (South Sudan), and, reflecting the addition of a new co-director (K. Chad Clay) in Fall 2012, the project’s citation has changed.  Perhaps most importantly, CIRI’s release schedule has changed.  In the future, data updates will be issued annually in January to cover the year that began two years previous.  As such, the 2012 ratings will be released in January 2014.

Below, we present four stories from the 2011 data:


All 14 of CIRI’s individual indicators of particular human rights can be summed into an overall human rights score for each country in the world.  The best score a country can receive is 30, representing high respect for all 14 human rights; the worst score is 0, representing very low respect for all 14 human rights.  The world average was 17, and the USA scored 24 (tied for the 7th highest score, but still ranking behind 37 countries).  Below are the best and worst of 2011.

Top 9 Countries – Overall Respect
Luxembourg [30]
Netherlands [29]
New Zealand [29]
San Marino [29]
Andorra [28]
Australia [28]
Denmark [28]
Iceland [28]
Norway [28]

Bottom 9 Countries – Overall Respect
Iran [1]
Eritrea [2]
Saudi Arabia [2]
Burma [3]
China [3]
Libya [3]
Yemen [3]
Democratic People's Republic of Korea [4]
Syria [4]


The CIRI Physical Integrity Rights Index measures government respect for the freedoms from torture, extrajudicial killing, political imprisonment, and disappearance. It varies from 0 (no respect for physical integrity rights) to 8 (full respect for physical integrity rights).  Overall, government respect for physical integrity declined in 2011, as the mean score on the physical integrity rights index fell from 5.01 in 2010 to 4.82 in 2011.  In particular, respect for physical integrity rights saw the following dramatic changes in 2010-2011:

Largest Declines in Respect for Physical Integrity Rights
Bahrain [-5]
Djibouti [-3]
Egypt [-3]
Republic of Korea [-3]
Libya [-3]
Mauritania [-3]
Oman [-3]

Largest Improvements in Respect for Physical Integrity Rights
Panama [+4]
Croatia [+3]
Belarus [+2]
Nepal [+2]
Togo [+2]

Further, as these lists suggest, it would appear that changes in government respect for physical integrity rights in 2011 were not evenly distributed across the globe.  Indeed, as demonstrated below, South Asian states experienced a net improvement in average government respect for physical integrity, while some of the largest declines in government respect for physical integrity rights were concentrated in the Near East & North Africa:

Average Change in Respect for Physical Integrity Rights by Region
Africa [-0.04]
East Asia & the Pacific [-0.12]
Europe & Eurasia [0]
Near East & North Africa [-1.37]
South Asia [+0.25]
Western Hemisphere [-0.11]


Beginning in Tunisia in December 2010, the wave of demonstrations, protests, and conflicts known as the “Arab Spring” swept through the Arab world in 2011.  What effect did this have on respect for human rights in the Near East and North Africa (as defined by the US State Department)?  Table 1 displays the change in the overall human rights score, as well as in the CIRI Physical Integrity Rights Index, from 2010 to 2011. 

As can be seen, most states in the region demonstrated reduced respect for human rights in 2011, particularly those states that experienced some of the highest levels of unrest that year, e.g. Bahrain, Libya, and Egypt.  Of course, other states, like Syria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, already had extremely low scores on our indicators and thus, had little room to move down.  On the other hand, Tunisia experienced a large increase in its overall human rights score, owing to the overthrow of its government early in the year and the elections held in October.  However, this was not enough to overcome the high level of physical integrity rights abuse that accompanied the protests early in the year, which led to a decrease in respect for physical integrity rights from an already low score of 3 in 2010 to 2 in 2011.
CIRI also annually codes two measures of internationally-recognized women’s rights: women’s political rights and women’s economic rights.  The women’s political rights measure is aimed at capturing the degree to which government laws and practices ensure that women enjoy the rights to vote, to run for political office, to hold elected and appointed government positions, to join political parties, and to petition government officials.  The women’s economic rights measure captures the degree to which government laws and practices ensure that women enjoy equal pay for equal work, free choice of profession or employment, the right to gainful employment, equality in hiring and promotion, job security, freedom from discrimination by employers, freedom from sexual harassment, and the right to work in dangerous professions, including working at night and working in the military and police forces.
Our two measures of women’s rights moved in opposite directions in 2011.  While women’s political rights improved for the second straight year, women’s economic rights suffered a setback after two consecutive years of improvement.  Indeed, this is in keeping with these measures’ performance over time.  As shown in the graph below, respect for women’s economic rights has lagged behind respect for women’s political rights consistently since 1981.  However, that gap has widened with time, as respect for women’s political rights has consistently grown while respect for women’s economic rights has remained relatively flat.
Note: The shapefile used to construct the above map comes from Weidmann, Kuse, and Gleditsch’s cshapes, version 0.4-2.  The map was made using Pisati’s spmap package in Stata 12.1.  Another version of this post can be viewed at the The Quantitative Peace.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Kosovo 1981 Issue Resolved

Our webmaster has resolved the aforementioned issue with the Kosovo 1981 country-year, so there should be no more need to manually remove those 0s from the dataset. Thanks for bearing with us on this! Sincerely, The CIRI Team

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Kosovo 1981

We are experiencing a technical glitch where the server is replacing blanks (no data) with 0s for the row of Kosovo, 1981. We're working on remedying this, but pleased be advised for the moment to remove those 0s from the dataset before analysis. Sincerely, The CIRI Team

Monday, July 1, 2013

Please Support our CIRI Human Rights Education Initiative

Starting this fall with the release of our soon-to-be-announced web features, CIRI will be beginning a series of human rights-education initiatives. For the first of these endeavors, we are attempting funding via crowd-sourcing. 

If you are able to contribute, or know anyone that can, we'd certainly appreciate your support. If this initial project succeeds, we have a host of exciting further ideas for promoting human rights education in high schools.

A campaign abstract is below. You can contribute via Paypal or other means at our crowd-sourcing website:

For your contribution, you can probably receive some free CIRI swag, maybe immortality on our website, but most-definitely our eternal thanks and the knowledge of doing some good by raising knowledge/awareness of human rights!

Summary of Campaign

The goal of the CIRI Human Rights Education Initiative is to produce human rights-based lesson plans for use in high school classrooms. Funds will be used to pay an advanced Ph.D. student to work with high school social science teachers under the supervision of CIRI Co-Director Dr. David L. Richards to develop human rights-based lesson plans during the summer of 2014.These lesson plans will be made freely available on the CIRI website.
The lesson plans will engage students with questions such as:
  • What are human rights?
  • Which human rights are most-respected and/or violated by governments around the world, and why?
  • How can we compare countries' respect for human rights both across geography and over time?
  • What can be done to better-protect human rights?
  • What is the state of human rights in the USA?
By using CIRI data to address many of these questions, students will also learn and hone crucial evidence-based/critical thinking as well as quantitative-based comparative and comprehension skills.

What We Need & What You Get

Our campaign total is based on: (1) the cost of a half-time graduate research assistant for one summer (77% of total funds requested for campaign); (2) expenses related to working with high school teachers on lesson creation; (3) web-based distribution costs; (3) miscellaneous supplies.

The Impact

The goal of the CIRI project is greater respect for human rights fueled by greater awareness of human rights, and we can't think of a better starting point than the high school classroom. Human rights education has come a long way at colleges -- to the point where it is now a major of its own. However, human rights on its own is just a budding subject in high schools. By combining a data-based approach with human rights education, the CIRI Initiative's lesson plans will meet dual needs: topical coverage of human rights and an introduction to quantitative comparison/analysis and evidence-based decision making. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

2011 Data Update, 2012 Data Update, Manual Update, Surprise


We have four things of note to share:

1. Work has been underway on the 2011 data. We hope to have those data uploaded for public access in late July or early August. We'll post updates here on the blog as things unfold.

2. This coming fall, we'll be working on the 2012 data.  We hope to have those data uploaded for public access in January. We'll post updates here on the blog as things unfold.

3. This summer, we'll be releasing an updated version of our coding manual. The update reflects improvements over the last several years in how we train our coders.

4. Keep an eye out on this blog and on the CIRI website this year for a major addition to what we offer our users.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Lesson in Falsifiability for “Senator No”

In 2009, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) used the CIRI Human Rights Data Project (, as one reason among others to argue for ceasing National Science Foundation funding for political science research. He did not succeed then, but he will undoubtedly succeed in 2013, given the recent Senate and House passages of the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, containing this language. His amendment to this bill will block approximately $10 million of NSF funding for political science research from being used, except for that research which the Director of the NSF certifies is in the interest of the United States’ economy or security. Coburn’s 2009 comments about the CIRI project persist in recent coverage of this week’s news about the passage of the appropriations bill.

Interestingly, the situation in which we currently find ourselves provides an opportunity to teach the Senator a basic scientific concept: falsifiability. In essence, Senator Coburn has made a $10 million hypothesis (educated guess) that his enumerated reasons for cutting NSF funding of political science research are sound. Unlike in the world of science where hypotheses must meet evidence and findings must pass peer review, however, the Senator does not have to expose his hypothesis to systematic scrutiny. We can do that here, however.

The CIRI Human Rights Data Project provides annual numeric ratings of the level of government respect for 15 internationally-recognized human rights in 195 countries, including the United States. With funds from the NSF, in 2004 we launched a website that allows users to download these scores for free. The majority of NSF funds went to our many graduate and undergraduate student assistants. Currently, CIRI data are used in approximately 170 countries by governments, international organizations, researchers, activists, businesses and, increasingly, students. 

Senator Coburn leveled explicit criticism at the CIRI project because we purportedly concluded that the United States has been ‘increasingly willing to torture enemy combatants and imprison suspected terrorists,’ leading to a worldwide increase in ‘human rights violations’ as others followed-suit.” 

That is false, Senator, on two counts:

First, the CIRI project only codes what governments do to their own citizens. What governments do to enemy and non-citizen combatants are not included in the CIRI dataset. This has been made clear for anyone who takes the trouble to read our data-creation guidelines, which have been freely accessible online since August 2004. 

Second, whether other governments follow the lead of the US in the use of torture is a causal research question. The CIRI project provides data about respect for human rights; we do not, as an organization, test causal research questions. The NSF money CIRI has received has gone towards data creation and distribution, not the investigation of whether other countries are more prone to use torture should the USA do so first. What Senator Coburn’s statement about CIRI is based upon is a quote from David Cingranelli in a news item from December 2008, not anything relating to the CIRI project’s data or its funding.

So, to the extent NSF funding for the CIRI Human Rights Data Project has weighed in his decision, Senator Coburn has threatened $10 million of federal funds for political science research based on an easily falsifiable premise. Cutting millions of dollars of valuable social science research based on a patently false supposition about the world is deplorable and unwise. 

If the Senator is opposed to CIRI’s mission of providing data to help provide a life of dignity to persons worldwide, it would be honorable to be straightforward about that rather than engaging in mischaracterizations in order to be seen as protecting the US citizenry from the wasteful funding of projects which purportedly denigrate the United States without reason. 

Finally, a special mention for Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who was willing to go along with Coburn's language because she thinks the "national security" and "national economy" loopholes are big enough such that no research will actually be declined by NSF. That's a dangerously tunnel-visioned  of research such that it all fits into one or both of two boxes. It also bends to the Bush-era winds that national security (defined as military expenditure and intervention) is the only important factor in this world -- a point of view antithetical to the very notion of human rights itself.

-David L. Richards

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Up & Running

It appears the CIRI website is back up and running at full functionality. We are grateful to our users for their patience and understanding during the outage.

All of us at CIRI

Friday, March 1, 2013

Service Interruption

Dear CIRI Users,

We apologize for today's service interruption. Apparently our DNS provider, Directnic, took us offline by assigning two IP addresses to our website. Thus, access as of this point is random.

If you can't access CIRI, please hit up Directnic on Twitter and/or Facebook. and tell them to pay some attention to Trouble Ticket TT#2031436.

They haven't responded to our entreaties, so maybe they'll move if they get some more hits about the issue.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

CIRI Data Now Archived at Dodd Center

By Suzanne Zack
University of Connecticut Libraries

Storrs, CT – Graphic stories of torture and forced disappearances may seem more prevalent in certain parts of the world than others, based on news accounts, resolutions deliberated by the United Nations, or reports issued by watch dog organizations such as Amnesty International. But, in the larger picture, what types of human rights are most and least respected by governments in the world today and why?  
The CIRI Human Rights Data Project, which tracks 15 separate human rights in 195 countries from 1981 to the present, allows this larger picture to emerge. Now, UConn will host a digital archive of the CIRI project’s data, as well as the CIRI website itself ( 

CIRI’s human rights data have been used by hundreds of governments and global organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, and USAID to make informed decisions. These data are also widely used by academics, think tanks, and financial institutions for a variety of purposes.

“The CIRI dataset provides highly-regarded quantitative indicators on the state of human rights worldwide. For well over a decade they have been a valuable input to the Worldwide Governance Indicators,” said Daniel Kaufmann, President of Revenue Watch and coauthor of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators.

The CIRI project’s work spans three major research universities: the State University of New York at Binghamton (since 2004), the University of Connecticut (since 2010), and the University of Georgia (since 2012). The CIRI website allows users to either download the entire dataset, or create a custom dataset, choosing specific indicators, years, and countries. CIRI requires users to register in order to access the data, but the data are freely available upon registration.  To date, CIRI counts more than 13,500 registered users. 

“In this digital and data-driven age, measuring the human rights practices of governments has become an important part of the global human rights movement seeking to provide lives of dignity for all persons worldwide,” contends CIRI co-director Dr. David L. Richards, associate professor of political science and human rights at UConn. “And, having the CIRI project here at UConn helps our students make a connection between data and action in a first-hand way they would not get, otherwise. Best of all, perhaps: by taking an active role in CIRI’s work, students take a real part in world politics.” Richards notes. 

Richards is co-founder and co-director along with Dr. David L. Cingranelli, professor of political science at SUNY Binghamton. Dr. K. Chad Clay, assistant professor in the Department of International Affairs at the University of Georgia joined as a third co-director in the fall of 2012.  The CIRI project was initially designed for use by scholars seeking to test theories about the causes and consequences of human rights violations, as well as policymakers and analysts needing to estimate the human rights effects of a wide variety of institutional changes and public policies including democratization, economic aid, military aid, structural adjustment, and humanitarian intervention.

The CIRI archives constitute the first collection of data deposited in UConn’s new digital repository, a project currently underway for the campus community and the State of Connecticut by the University Libraries’ Archives & Special Collections.
“Bringing the CIRI Data Project to Archives & Special Collections will make it possible to provide long-term preservation of the data as well as the opportunity to develop new visualization tools as part of the Libraries’ support of research data management,” said Greg Colati, director of Archives & Special Collections. Using Richard’s work, the library is developing this new visualization tool in a collaborative effort between Archives & Special Collections, the Libraries Map and Geographic Center and CIRI.  

Richards says he is excited about working with Archives & Special Collections on the new data visualization tools and expects all of CIRI’s many types of users will make good use of this new feature, expected to be available in the fall of 2013.
The CIRI project, which is updated annually, provides measures of several types of internationally-recognized human rights, including:  physical integrity rights, or the right not to be tortured, extra-judicially killed, disappeared, or imprisoned for political beliefs; civil rights and liberties, or the right to free speech, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of domestic movement, freedom of international movement freedom of religion, and to participate in free and fair elections for the selection of government leaders.  Also tracked are: workers’ rights, such as the right to bargain collectively; and women’s rights to legal protection and equal treatment, politically and economically.

Among CIRI’s users is the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which supports and collaborates with those who seek peace by promoting understanding and respect between the world's major religions. “The Tony Blair Faith Foundation has found CIRI data to be particularly useful in gauging Human Rights information globally,” says Parna Taylor, Director of Communications. “They are a valuable resource for the world and we are pleased to be able to use their data.”

While human rights has been taught at the collegiate level for some time, interest in the field now extends to the secondary teachers of Advanced Placement (AP) Comparative Government and Politics, making CIRI a familiar resource to yet  another audience. “By enabling students to look at patterns of respect and violations of human rights, CIRI’s data allow the formulation of questions about differences in respect across countries, differences in respect across time, and patterns of respect among different rights within countries.” Richards says.

“Human rights violations are frequently reported as narratives, as the stories of specific people -- which is also important for highlighting the humanity of the victims and recognizing how their rights have been violated,” observes Corinne Tagliarina, who is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science and in the Human Rights certificate program at UConn.  “The narrative method makes it difficult to get a comprehensive look at how often specific countries violate different human rights.  CIRI offers a big picture view of human rights in the world.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

New Book on Economic & Social Human Rights

A newly released volume from Cambridge University Press, The State of Economic & Social Human Rights: A Global Overview, edited by Lanse Minkler, offers interdisciplinary contributions aimed at enabling scholars and policy makers find the best ways to instantiate economic and social rights across multiple issue areas.

For details, see: