Today the challenge of economic and social rights fulfillment has never been more pressing. Despite global growth and rising per capita GDP, malnutrition, deaths from preventable disease and other forms of socioeconomic exclusion remain endemic: in 2010, the worst performing countries met less than 40% of their economic and social rights obligations.

Countries are bound under international law to respect, protect, and fulfill economic and social rights—but there are few viable tools to hold States accountable for meeting these human rights obligations. We are therefore pleased to announce the launch of a new website and online database for the Economic & Social Rights Empowerment Initiative.

At the core of the Initiative is the Index of Social and Economic Rights Fulfillment (SERF Index), which allows rigorous analysis regarding economic and social rights guaranteed under international law: the right to adequate food, right to education, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the right to adequate housing, the right to decent work, and the right to social security. SERF Index innovations permit cross-country comparisons in rights fulfillment, and objective assessment of whether the situation in a country is improving or deteriorating; consider countries’ available resources in determining rights obligations, as required by the legal principle of progressive realization; and provide a methodology to examine disparities in rights fulfillment between population sub-groups. These innovations create a powerful tool for civil society to hold governments accountable for fulfilling rights guaranteed under international law.

Please visit www.serfindex.org to learn more about the Initiative, access SERF Index cross-country data, and read associated research papers. The Economic & Social Rights Empowerment Initiative is a project initiated jointly by Prof. Susan Randolph at the University of Connecticut and her collaborators at the New School, Sakiko Fukuda-Parr and Terra Lawson-Remer, and is undertaken collaboratively with the Social Science Research Council.

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