The right for freedom of speech and assembly was one criteria used in the study by researchers at the University of Rhode Island's Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Most countries around the world struggle with protecting their citizens of some of the most basic human rights, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Rhode Island's Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies released Thursday.
The study, produced by the center's Global Rights Project, graded countries from A to F on a 100-point scale based on a set of 25 individual human rights.
Some of those involved physical integrity rights, such as freedom from torture or political imprisonment; empowerment, such as freedom of speech and assembly; worker rights, like permission to unionize and freedom from child labor; and justice, such as the ability to have fair trials.
The study found that Finland was the leading country for human rights, with a grade of 98, or A, followed by Australia (92), Estonia (92), Estonia (92) and Austria (90).
The lowest-ranked countries were Iran (0, or F), Syria (6), Yemen (8), Venezuela (12) and Egypt (13).
The United States earned a D grade of 64, while neighboring Canada received a grade of 88.
The center said, though, that 60% of the countries around the world received a grade of F for their human rights protections and only 20% of the countries received a B grade or higher, or a grade of 80 or higher.
"We show that most countries of the world are failing to protect their citizens' most basic rights," said Skip Mark, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island and director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies.
"We think these findings make it clear that there's a lot of work to do in terms of ensuring that all people have a chance to live a life of dignity and respect.
"We hope objective measures of human rights practices in this report will be a resource for policymakers, nongovernmental organizations, researchers and anyone else interested in improving human rights around the world."
The study said that human rights around the world dropped significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with restrictions in travel and activities along with economic limitations.
"Since there's no helping human dignity without fully understanding the nature and extent of threats to its respect, the information these data bring to light couldn't be more important," said study co-leader David Richards, a professor at the University of Connecticut.