One of the most ambitious legacies of the 20th century was the universal commitment to ensure freedom from want as a human right. But to what extent are countries across the world living up to this commitment? This path breaking book develops an innovative, evidence-based index for comparing performance on education, food, health, work and housing across very differently situated countries and over time. It explores the factors influencing performance and provides empirical evidence to resolve some long standing controversies over the principle of progressive realization. By defying the boundaries of traditional research disciplines, this work fundamentally advances our knowledge about the status of and factors promoting social and economic rights fulfillment at the dawn of the 21st century.