Editorial, Opinion Piece Mark 70th Anniversary Of Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, Examine Evolution Of Human Rights In Global Health

The Lancet: The right to health
Editorial Board

“Human Rights Day is recognized annually on Dec. 10, and this year is especially important since it is the 70th anniversary of the day that the U.N. General Assembly adopted the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)]. … [In a Lancet viewpoint article,] Lawrence Gostin and colleagues, including the director general of WHO, look back at the evolution of human rights in global health over the past 70 years and outline key messages for the future of health as a human right. Gostin and colleagues describe how human rights became embedded in global health governance … [and] how it was not until the AIDS pandemic in the 1980s that momentum grew behind universal access to treatment. Global health law, such as the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and security, through the International Health Regulations, helped to embed health-related rights. Now, WHO considers universal health coverage through strengthened primary health care as core to the right to health and to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. … As a common standard of achievement for all nations, promoting respect for these rights and freedoms is critical. But with constant rights violations taking place worldwide, and global threats such as climate change, armed conflict, and mass migration, the future of rights-based global health efforts is in the balance” (12/9).

The Lancet: 70 years of human rights in global health: drawing on a contentious past to secure a hopeful future
Lawrence O. Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at the Georgetown University Law Center, and colleagues

“…Human rights have brought the world together in unprecedented solidarity over the past 70 years, recognizing the inherent dignity of every person as an imperative for global health. … While we celebrate the enduring legacies of human rights, we must also strive to identify and rectify the constraints on rights-based governance for public health in a globalizing world. It is more important than ever for the health and human rights communities to stand together as partners to uphold the values of the UDHR and resist contemporary threats to human rights. The human rights progress of the past, bringing together top-down leadership in global health governance with bottom-up civil society advocacy, highlights the importance of sustained political engagement to realize the right to health. Health practitioners have a crucial role in this political engagement, advancing rights-based public health policies, programs, and practices that are essential to secure the future of human rights in global health” (12/9).

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