Health, human rights and Australia’s foreign policies

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


  • 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.

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  • Elizabeth A Reid

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


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.

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