In this episode of the Social Innovation Podcast, Michael Waitze was joined by the esteemed Anne-Marie Brook, a co-Founder of the Human Rights Measurement Initiative. Anne-Marie is a trained economist and holds a Masters Degree in Economics from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. She spent the better part of 20 years working as an economist including almost 6 years at the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) and almost a decade between the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the New Zealand Treasury. Anne-Marie knows her stuff.
It was while she was in Paris working at the OECD that Anne-Marie had what she describes as her first “light-bulb moment” that led her to the founding of HRMI with Susan Randolph and K. Chad Clay. At the OECD, Anne-Marie was giving economic advice to governments across the globe and noticed that Human Rights were quite a big issue. She began looking for ways to include these Human Rights issues into her economic advice and she found that she was not able to do so because she could not find the proper data sets.
As an economist, Anne-Marie notes, her recommendations have to be based on empirical data and it was this lack of data on human rights that led her and her co-Founders to begin to build HRMI. HRMI is a global collaboration between human rights academics and human rights practitioners that is producing a comprehensive human-rights focused database. This data is used to measure how countries score on multiple human rights according to those set out by international law. The idea is to produce data that can be used both by academics to write journal articles and human rights practitioners to really understand what is happening on the ground in the countries in which they operate.