Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Apr 14, 2016

In Episode 5 of The Rights Track, Todd asks Sakiko Fukuda-Parr, Professor of International Affairs at the New School in New York, about human development and her work to develop a way of measuring and comparing how well countries do at upholding their social and economic rights obligations.

0.00-5.55 minutes

  • Explanation of how the Human Development Index and associated reports came about and those involved in their concept and development
  • The thinking behind the HDI and how it was designed to rival GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a measure of economic success and a better measurement of how countries and their population are progressing and developing
  • How the HDI challenged current thinking and perspectives on evaluating progress by focusing on freedoms to do and be what we value
  • Defining well-being as people’s capabilities e.g. the ‘right to be able to read’ or the ‘right to have an education’

5.55-9.30 minutes

  • How the HDI works - its scoring system
  • How the HDI enabled measurement and analysis to catch the attention of policy makers, and global leaders for the first time
  • How the Index offers us interesting new insights into how well or badly a country is doing in using its economic resources to better the lives of its people (examples given of Cuba and Costa Rica)


  • An explanation of the difference between human development and human rights
  • How Sakiko and colleagues came to develop the Social and Economic Rights Fulfilment Index (SERF)
  • Sakiko’s personal motivation for setting up an Index for measuring social and economic rights and the links between human development and human rights
  • The political (Reagan-Thatcher era) context and backdrop of the development the Index and the tensions around the ideas being put forward
  • Sakiko draws comparison between some of the issues of that time with what’s been happening with austerity in countries like Greece
  • How and why the HDI developed into the SERF Index
  • Taking account of resource constraints in the measurement and analysis
  • The challenges and debates among academics and practitioners around whether or not it was possible to create an effective measurement tool for economic and social rights
  • How data was key to creating the index
  • The sorts of things that were taken into consideration in the Index



  • What the Index has achieved and how it has helped developed our ability to measure progress
  • What the Index tells us over time
  • The constraints that go beyond GDP, e.g. how something like Ebola can compromise how a country can deliver the right to heat
  • SERF Index as a resource for researchers

Other links