Connect
MJA
MJA

Health, human rights and Australia’s foreign policies

Elizabeth A Reid
Med J Aust 2004; 180 (4): 163-165.

Summary

  • International human rights law affirms that everyone has a right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

  • States that are parties to human rights treaties are obliged under international law to observe these rights.

  • Australia has ratified all international human rights law instruments in which the right to health is enshrined, and so is obliged to ensure that its foreign policy, including its development assistance program, contributes towards the progressive realisation of the right to health.

  • International trade regulation should be consonant with the progressive realisation of the right to health globally.

Please login with your free MJA account to view this article in full

  • Elizabeth A Reid

  • Gender Relation Centre RSPAS, Australian National University, Canberra, ACT.

Correspondence: 

Competing interests:

E A R is a part-time technical adviser to a consortium of Australian pharmaceutical firms on their philanthropic initiatives in the health sector in Papua New Guinea. This work and the firms involved played no role in the preparation or publication of the article.

  • 1. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Staff College Project. Human rights: a basic handbook for UN staff. Geneva: United Nations, 1999.
  • 2. United Nations. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Geneva: United Nations, 1948. Available at: www.un.org/Overview/rights.html (accessed Jan 2004).
  • 3. United Nations. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Geneva: United Nations, 1966. Available at: www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a_cescr.htm (accessed Jan 2004).
  • 4. World Health Organization South-East Asia Regional Office. The use of antiretroviral therapy: a simplified approach for resource-constrained countries. New Delhi: WHO SEARO, 2002. Available at: w3.whosea.org/hivaids/therapry_cont.htm (accessed Jan 2004).
  • 5. Hunt P. Economic, social and cultural rights: the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health: Report of the Special Rapporteur. Geneva: UN Commission on Human Rights, 2003. (Document E/CN.4/2003/58.)
  • 6. Reid E. Towards an ethical response to the HIV epidemic. Proceedings of the Intercountry Consultation of the African Network on Ethics, Law and HIV. Dakar, Senegal: United Nations Development Programme, 1994.
  • 7. Australian Government. Improving the effectiveness of the United Nations committees. Joint Media Release FA97. 29 August 2000.
  • 8. Rich R. Solidarity rights give way to solidifying rights. Dialogue (Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia) 2002; 21(3): 29-30.
  • 9. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Australia now. Australia and universal human rights. Available at: www.dfat.gov.au/facts/human_rights.html (accessed Sep 2003).
  • 10. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Eighth Annual Statement to Parliament on Australia’s Development Cooperation Program, the Hon Alexander Downing, Minister for Foreign Affairs, 2 December 1998. Available at: www.ausaid.gov.au/media/speeches.cfm (accessed Sep 2003).
  • 11. Gostin L, Mann J. Towards the development of a human rights impact assessment for the formulation and evaluation of public health policies. In: Mann JM, Gruskin S, Annas GL, Grodin MA, editors. Health and human rights: a reader. New York: Routledge, 1999: 54-71.
  • 12. Watchirs H. A human rights approach to HIV/AIDS: transforming international obligations into national laws. Aust Yearbook Int Law 2002; 22: 77-112.
  • 13. Blouin C, Foster J, Labonte R. Canada’s foreign policy and health: toward policy coherence. Commission for the Future of Health Care in Canada, 2002. Available at: www.spheru.ca/www/html/Reports/Reports_globalization.htm (accessed Jan 2004).

Author

remove_circle_outline Delete Author
add_circle_outline Add Author

Comment
Do you have any competing interests to declare? *

I/we agree to assign copyright to the Medical Journal of Australia and agree to the Conditions of publication *
I/we agree to the Terms of use of the Medical Journal of Australia *
Email me when people comment on this article

Responses are now closed for this article.