Global Health and Human Rights

donderdag 18 jul 2019, 09:00 - 16:15
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In a rapidly globalised word, health and human rights are closely related. Violating basic human rights can heavily impact in a negative way the health of individuals and communities. Violating further basic human rights might also lead to inequality and discrimination in access to health-care services.

The realisation of human rights in health care is therefore a key-obligation, both at national and global level. But what is the relationship between human rights and global health about? What are the key elements of that complex relationship, what are the key national and international institutions, and how do they respond to human rights challenges in health? These and other issues will be addressed during a one-day seminar, organised by the Erasmus Health Law Observatory, Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands) and IDIVAL, University of Cantabria (Spain) and hosted by the Erasmus Law School.


This seminar provides the opportunity to participate in one of the state-of-the-art research programmes that the Erasmus Health Law Observatory offers. The Observatory tackles existing and emerging global health concerns by bringing together the many academic disciplines needed to address them. Participants will be exposed to the latest thinking in global health and human rights and will present and discuss their research outcomes related to one of the themes mentioned.

Key objectives of this one-day seminar are to:

  • identify healthcare programmes and policies on national, regional and global level
  • gain a better understanding of human rights issues in the health care setting
  • get insight into the obstacles to the implementation of human rights in health care;
  • explore underlying determinants of health as part of a comprehensive approach to health and human rights

Target groups

This seminar is open to: i) PhD students and early-career researchers involved in global health and human rights issues; ii) Senior researchers and PhD supervisors involved in global
health and human rights issues; iii) Health law and health-related professionals, and iv) other persons interested in global health and human rights issues.


Participating in the seminar is free of charge. Prior registration is required. Please, contact André den Exter for further details and registration.

André den Exter, Erasmus Law School, Erasmus University Rotterdam (
Joaquin Cayon, IDIVAL-University of Cantabria (


Seminar Topics

The right to health(care) is one of a set of internationally agreed human rights standards, and is inseparable or ‘indivisible’ from these other rights. This means achieving the right to health is both central to, and dependent upon, the realisation of other human rights, to food, housing, work, education, information, and participation. In addition, some modern and controversial developments such as genetic enhancement and access to ART technologies might be dealth with in order to discuss minimun common standards in the healthcare field.

Disadvantage and marginalization serve to exclude certain populations in societies from enjoying good health. Communicable diseases disproportionately affect the world’s poorest populations, and in many cases are compounded and exacerbated by other inequalities and inequities including gender, age, sexual orientation or gender identity and migration status. Conversely the burden of non-communicable diseases – often perceived as affecting high-income countries – is increasing disproportionately among lower-income countries and populations, and is largely associated with lifestyle and behaviour factors as well as environmental determinants, such as safe housing, water and sanitation that are inextricably linked to human rights. This topic will also cover reproductive health, health sector accountability and access to healthcare services for vulnerable groups (women, children, prisoners, etc.).

Violations or lack of attention to human rights can have serious health consequences. Overt or implicit discrimination in the delivery of health services – both within the health workforce and between health workers and service users – acts as a powerful barrier to health services, and contributes to poor quality care.

Violations of human rights not only contribute to and exacerbate poor health, but for many, including people with disabilities, mentally ill, indigenous populations, women living with HIV, sex workers, people who use drugs, transgender and intersex people, the health care setting presents a risk of heightened exposure to human rights abuses – including coercive or forced treatment and procedures

A human rights-based approach to health provides a set of clear principles for setting and evaluating health policy and service delivery, targeting discriminatory practices and unjust power relations that are at the heart of inequitable health outcomes. In pursuing a rights-based approach, health policy, strategies and programmes should be designed explicitly to improve the enjoyment of all people to the right to health, with a focus on the furthest behind first. The core principles and standards of a rights-based approach are detailed below.

Meer informatie

Date: 18 July 2019
Venue: Erasmus Law School, Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands)
Organizers: Erasmus Health Law Observatory, Erasmus University Rotterdam (the Netherlands) & IDIVAL, University of Cantabria (Spain)

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