Q. What is the CIRI Human Rights Dataset?

A. The CIRI Human Rights Dataset contains standards-based quantitative information on government respect for a wide range of internationally-recognized human rights for countries of all regime-types and from all regions of the world. The data set contains measures of government human rights practices, not human rights policies or overall human rights conditions (which may be affected by non-state actors).

Q. What human rights are included in CIRI?

A. The CIRI dataset contains information about government respect for a wide range of human rights. The selection of the particular rights in the CIRI dataset does not imply that these rights are considered to be more important than other human rights. Rather, these are the rights for which we have reliable and systematically available information across time and space. CIRI includes measures of the practices of governments that allow or impede citizens who wish to exercise their:
  • Physical integrity rights--the rights not to be tortured, summarily executed, disappeared, or imprisoned for political beliefs. The scores of these variables can be summed to form a statistically valid cumulative scale (Cingranelli and Richards, 1999; Richards, Gelleny, and Sacko, 2001).
  • Civil liberties such as free speech, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, and the right to participate in the selection of government leaders. The scores of some of these variables can be summed to form a statistically valid cumulative scale (Richards, Gelleny, and Sacko, 2001).
  • Workers’ rights
  • Rights of women to equal treatment politically, economically, and socially.

Q. What countries and years does CIRI cover?

A. CIRI includes information about 202 countries, for the years 1981 to 2011. For thirty-three of these countries, added in December 2004, data only exist for 2001 and 2003 and beyond. For a full country listing, click HERE.

Q. What is CIRI’s unit of analysis?

A. CIRI’s unit of analysis is the "country-year." A country-year is a particular country in a particular year. For instance, "United States 1998" is a particular country-year. It is a single snapshot of space and time -- one country in a particular year.

Q. How do I cite the CIRI Human Rights Dataset?

A. Please feel free to use the citation style of your choice, given the following information:

Dataset Name:
The CIRI Human Rights Dataset
Principal Investigators:
David L. Cingranelli, David L. Richards, and K. Chad Clay
Current Version Copyright:
Dataset Version:

Q. How reliable are the CIRI data?

A. To ensure reliability, every country-year in the CIRI dataset is independently coded by at least two trained coders, who meet with senior CIRI staff to resolve any disagreements. For the most recent coding, the Krippendorf’s r-bar measure of interrater reliability for the entire set was 0.944. CIRI discounts in this figure disagreements among coders based solely upon one coder having missed some information in a source, as these errors do not make it into the final data and are not the result of operationalization.

Q. What is CIRI’s missing data code?

A. CIRI uses the code -999 where data are missing. Be sure to remove this value from your dataset or use software to exclude it from analysis, before engaging in a statistical analysis using the CIRI data.

Q. Are there codes in the dataset other than variable values or the missing data code that I should be aware of?

A. Sometimes, special circumstances in a country make it so that a CIRI value cannot be given, but there is more information than a "missing data" code would indicate. Such instances receive one of the following special codes developed by the POLITY data project and outlined in Marshall and Jaggers (2003). Be sure to remove these values from your dataset or use software to exclude them from analysis, before engaging in a statistical analysis using the CIRI data.

A score of "-77" indicates periods of interregnum, during which there is a complete collapse of central political authority.

A score of "-66" indicates a period of interruption. If a country is occupied by foreign powers during wartime, terminating the old polity, then reestablishes the pre-war polity after the occupation ends, the intervening years are coded as an interruption. For a full discussion of the POLITY indicators of special circumstance see Marshall and Jaggers (2003).

Reference: Marshall, Monty G. and Keith Jaggers. 2003. Polity IV Project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions, 1800-2002.

Q. Where does the information used to create the CIRI dataset come from?

A. The primary source of information about human rights practices is obtained from a careful reading of the annual United States Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. Coders are instructed to use this source for all variables. For a group of four rights known as "Physical Integrity Rights" (the rights to freedom from extrajudicial killing, disappearance, torture, and political imprisonment) coders also use a second source, Amnesty International’s Annual Report. Both reports can be found online for recent years. If there are discrepancies between the two sources, coders are instructed to treat the Amnesty International evaluation as authoritative. Some scholars believe that this step is necessary to remove a potential bias in favor of US allies, although Poe, et al, (2001) have found evidence of great agreement between these reports.

Reference: Poe, Steven P., Sabine C. Carey, and Tanya C. Vazquez. 2001. "How are these pictures Different? A quantitative comparison of the US State Department and Amnesty International human rights reports, 1976-1995." Human Rights Quarterly 23.3: 650-677.

Q. How do I download the CIRI data?

A.  Just click on the Data tab at the top of any CIRI page (including this one). You’ll be able to download your chosen CIRI data in either the Excel or CSV (comma delimited text) formats.