May 23, 2017
Last Monday, May 22th, the High-Level Group on the Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents published a report on realizing health-related human rights. It states that governments should invest in the integral relationship between human rights and health specifically for women, children and adolescents.
“Leadership is fundamental to maximize the benefits of the interplay between health and human rights. If human rights to – and through – health are not at the centre of what we do, the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will surely fail,” said Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland and co-chair of the High-Level Group at the launch of the report. The report emphasizes that against a backdrop of rising nationalism, marginalization – including of undocumented migrants, refugees, slum dwellers and indigenous peoples – proceeds hand in hand with violations of rights, with particularly dire consequences for women, children and adolescents and undermining stability for entire societies.
As an example, Halonen said: “The realization of human rights in the context of sexual and reproductive health, including access to safe abortion – is not only seriously uneven or unattainable at the country-level, it is under direct attack, risking the reversal of hard-won advances in preventable maternal and child mortality and undermining the health of adolescents worldwide.”
Role of health workers
According to Dr. Denis Mukwege, a renowned gynecologist in the Democratic Republic of Congo and rapporteur of the Group, “health workers, as human rights defenders, can play an indispensable role in supporting action and holding authorities accountable to ensuring all people are able to enjoy their right to health. They must be protected as they do so.”
The High-Level Working Group on Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents was established by the World Health Organization and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in May 2016 to secure political support, both nationally and internationally, for the implementation of the human rights-related measures required by the Global Strategy on Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health (2016-2030).