What is accountability for the right to health?

Accountability is a key component of human rights, including the right to health. In General Comment 9 on the domestic application of the covenant, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the body responsible for monitoring implementation of the covenant, stressed that the central obligation of states parties in relation to the ICESCR is to ensure that the rights recognized by the covenant are fulfilled. Although the ICESCR adopts a flexible approach that enables governments to take into account the particularities of their own legal and administrative systems, governments must nonetheless use all the means at their disposal to realize the rights recognized in the covenant.

Accountability is crucial to ensuring that states parties meet their obligations under the covenant. Governments are required to provide appropriate means of redress to aggrieved rights-holders. There are many types of accountability mechanisms, including judicial, quasi-judicial, administrative, political, and social mechanisms. While the type may vary, the purpose of each mechanism is to ensure that governments are answerable for their actions or inactions regarding the right to health and that rights-holders have effective remedies when their rights have been violated.

There are a number of potential remedies for violations of the right to health. Restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation focus on addressing impacts of rights violations on individual right-holders or groups of rights-holders. Satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition are remedies aimed at addressing rights violations at the systemic level.

(Source: Mechanisms of Accountability for the Realization of the Right to  Health in China. Shengnan Qiu & Gillian MacNaughton, in: Health and Human Rights Journal 19 (1), 2017)



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Type of resource: Books and reports

Accountability and human rights guidelines for pharmaceutical companies in relation to access to medicines (2008) - Annual report to the UN General Assembly, A/63/263
Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

Open resource