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The human right to health and the law - 19 February 2021

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The event will be hosted virtually via Microsoft Teams. Please register to receive the joining link.

Event Abstract

International human rights law recognises the right of everyone to the “ enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” (art. 12, ICESCR), including the "prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases” (art. 12, c). 134 national constitutions also recognise the right to health in some form.

What difference has this made, if any, to how governments responded to the pandemic and how people across the world were protected (or not) against its effects?

Most discussion on the effects of the pandemic and governments’ responses on human rights have focused on civil liberties such as freedom of movement, of assembly, the right to protest and privacy rights. Less attention has been dedicated to social and economic rights in general (e.g. rights to education, housing, food) and the right to health in particular.

In this session we focus on the latter, in particular on how socioeconomic inequalities have led to differential impact on individuals in terms of morbidity and mortality as well as access to treatment and, now, vaccines, and whether this may be considered a violation of the right to health.

Event Speakers

Dr Octavio Ferraz is reader of transnational law at King's College London. Before joining King's, Dr Octavio Ferraz was a senior research officer to the UN special rapporteur for the right to health and then moved to Warwick Law School, where he was an Assistant and then an Associate Professor for 8 years. Before moving to academia, he practiced law in Sao Paulo, Brazil, mostly in the fields of corporate public law and medical law for over ten years. He is still a member of the Brazilian Bar and contributes regularly to the Brazilian press.

Adam Wagner is an experienced human rights and public lawyer with a strong civil law background. He has acted at all levels including in the Supreme Court and European Court of Human Rights. Adam regularly lectures on human rights law and is currently a Visiting Professor of Law at Goldsmiths University. He is the Consultant Editor of the 2020 Prison Law edition of Halsbury’s Laws of England. In 2019 he was appointed to the Equality and Human Rights Commission ‘A' Panel of Counsel.

Sharifah Sekalala is an Associate Professor in the Law School at the University of Warwick. She is an interdisciplinary researcher whose work is at the intersection of international law, public policy, and global health. She is particularly focused on the role of human rights frameworks in addressing global health inequalities. Her work has been published in leading legal, international relations and public health journals. Her research has been funded by the GCRF, ESRC , Wellcome Trust and international organisations including the International Labour Organisation and the WHO.

Sharifah has consulted on human rights and health in several developing countries and worked for international organisations such as UNAIDS, WHO and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Sharifah holds a PhD in Law (Warwick, 2012), an LLM in Public International Law (Distinction in research, Nottingham, 2006) and an LLB Honours (Makerere University, Uganda 2004). She was called to the Ugandan Bar in 2005. She is the author of Soft Law and Global Health Problems (Cambridge University Press 2017), among many other publications.


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