Maternal mortality and the Right to Health

September 8, 2011

The 2011 OHCHR (the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) report on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity offers a compilation of effective practices to eliminate maternal mortality and morbidity, drawing upon 77 contributions from States and other stakeholders.

The report identifies the common features of such practices, analyses how they embody a human rights-based approach, and showcases some examples that have been effective in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity. Such examples combine sustained efforts to address the underlying causes of maternal mortality and morbidity while ensuring better access to quality health care and empowering women. This is also the first Human Rights Council report to address unsafe abortion from a human rights perspective.

The report will be considered by the Council in September 2011 and at a high-level side event co-sponsored by OHCHR.

It will be soon available in all UN languages at: (search A/HRC/18/27)

All contributions to the report are available at:

CEDAW decision on maternal mortality

On 10 August 2011, CEDAW – the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women – issued a landmark decision for women around the world, with its Views on the case of Alyne Pimentel v. Brazil  – the first case decided on maternal mortality. The case concerns the death of Alyne Pimentel, an Afro-Brazilian poor woman, for lack of adequate maternal health care. The CEDAW Committee found violations of the rights to health and judicial protection, referring to the State party’s obligation to regulate the activities of private health service providers. The Views also include considerations on why lack of access to adequate maternal health services constitutes discrimination against women, and some references to multiple discrimination (gender and race).