2009 World AIDS Day- Universal Access and Human Rights

Today, 1st December 2009 marks World AIDS day. Browsing through the 2009 AIDS Epidemic Update , one can see that despite significant efforts towards combating the epidemic, the global HIV/AIDS statics are alarming.

According to the report, an estimated:

  • 33.4 million people are living with HIV worldwide               
  • 2.7 million people were newly infected in 2008
  • 2 million people died of AIDS related illness in 2008

This year’s World AIDS Day theme is “Universal Access and Human Rights”. The challenge therefore for governments and donors, is to translate into real action and results, the knowledge of the interplay of HIV/AIDS and human rights. Notably:

  • The right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits;
  • The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
  • The right to non-discrimination, equal protection and equality before the law;
  • The right to life;
  • The right to privacy;
  • The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • The right to work;
  • The right to freedom of movement;
  • The right to seek and enjoy asylum;
  • The right to an adequate standard of living;
  • The right to social security, assistance and welfare;
  • The right to equal access to education;
  • The right to participate in public and cultural life;
  • The right to freedom of association;
  • The right to marry and to found a family;
  • The right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freely receive and impart information.

Indonesia Introduces Legislation to Microchip “Sexually Aggressive” HIV/AIDS Patients

Lawmakers in the Papua province of Indonesia support upcoming legislation that requires “sexually aggressive” HIV/AIDS patients to be implanted with microchips in order to identify, track and ultimately punish those who deliberately infect others with up to six months in jail or a $5,000 fine.

The proposed legislation has received full support from the provincial parliament and, if it passes as expected, the legislation will be enacted next month.  The government has not said how it would determine which patients should be considered “sexually aggressive.” 

Human rights workers are understandably troubled.  “People with AIDS aren’t animals; we have to respect their rights,” said Tahi Ganyang Butarbutar, a prominent Papuan activist.  Local health workers and AIDS activists called the plan “abhorrent.”

Given that much of Indonesia’s HIV/AIDS problem stems from lack of knowledge about how HIV/AIDS is spread, health workers suggest that the best way to tackle the epidemic is through increased spending on sexual education and condom use. Continue reading

Scholar’s Corner: Recent Scholarly Works in Global Health Law

Understanding the Conflicts between the Trips Agreement and Human Right to Health


9 (6) Journal of World Investment and Trade (2008)

Prabhash Ranjan
National University of Juridical Sciences

November 07, 2008


This paper analyses the relationship between the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the human right to health. The paper shows that the TRIPS agreement is in conflict with the human right to health as contained in human rights treaties such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The paper also discusses the limitations of the flexibilities in the TRIPS agreement in safeguarding the human right to health. The WTO member countries have taken steps in order to mitigate the adverse impact that the TRIPS agreement may have on human right to health. However, the paper discusses the limitations of these measures and shows that notwithstanding their limited significance, these measures may not be adequately effective in enabling countries to promote, protect and fulfill the human right to health.

Available at SSRN.


Woman loses UK High Court case on assisted suicide

A woman with multiple sclerosis has lost her High Court case to guarantee her husband immunity from persecution if he assists her commit suicide. Under UK law, aiding or abetting a suicide is a crime punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. However, wheelchair bound Debbie Purdy, 45 wanted clarification on how prosecutions for assisted suicides are reached.


Lord Justice Scott Baker said that the law was clear, and while he had sympathy for Purdy only parliament could change the law.


“We cannot leave this case without expressing great sympathy for Ms Purdy, her husband and others in a similar position who wish to know in advance whether they will face prosecution. This would involve a change in the law. The offence of assisted suicide is very widely drawn to cover all manner of different circumstances; only parliament can change it.”

Outside the courtroom, Purdy said she was “really disappointed” with the ruling and would take her case to the Court of Appeal.

“We still don’t know how we can make sure that we stay within the law, because I’m certainly not prepared for Omar to break the law – I’m not prepared for him to face jail.How can we make sure that we act within the law if they won’t tell us in what circumstances they would prosecute?”

Continue reading

Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights- accepting nominations

There is no denying that global health law has advanced tremendously thanks in great part to the late Jonathan Mann. To honor Dr. Jonathan Mann and highlight the vital link between health and human rights, the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights was established in 1999. Nominations for the Jonathan Mann Award are currently being received until January 15, 2009.


The Jonathan Mann award is given to a leading practitioner in health and human rights and comes with a substantial financial reward to allow its recipients a measure of freedom to pursue their work in the important area of global health and human rights.

In reviewing the nominees for the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, the following criteria will be considered and evaluated:  

 The Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights, will be presented in Washington, D.C., at a special Awards Ceremony during the Global Health Council’s Annual International Conference, May 26 – 30, 2009.

Other awards to be presented at the 2009 conference include-the Gates Award for Global Health, the Best Parcitces in Global Health Award and the Excellence in Media for Global Health Award.

Recommened reading for more on Jonathan Mann’s facinating life and work : Gostin LO. Public Health, Ethics, and Human Rights: A Tribute to the late Jonathan Mann. Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. 2001. 28:121-130.