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The YTL Centre: Symposium on Global Health Justice: Access to Medicines and Minimum Core Obligations

1ST Floor, King's College London, Somerset House East Wing, Strand Campus, SW1.18
20/03/2018 (17:30-19:30)
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"Millions of people do not have access to the health technologies that form a core component of the right to health".

UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines (2016), p.12.

This symposium brings together a diversity of disciplinary perspectives in order to examine the relationship between two vital concepts in global health law and policy: access to medicines and minimum core obligations, especially as they relate to the human right to health. The discussion will focus on three documents: the United Nations Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines Report, which included the Hon. Michael Kirby among its members, and two reports written by the Director of the YTL Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law, Professor John Tasioulas as consultant to the World Bank, on minimum core obligations and their relationship to the human right to health.

Among the questions that will be addressed by the symposium are the following: are there incoherencies between international human rights law, trade, intellectual property (IP) rights and public health objectives? how are the medicines to which humans have a right to access to be determined? how should the right to access to medicines be 'balanced' against intellectual property rights constraining such access? should the R&D costs of developing new medicines and medical technologies be 'delinked' from their end prices? what are minimum core obligations associated with economic, social, and cultural rights? is there a minimum core obligation of access to essential medicines? how should access to medicines and minimum core obligations bear on our understanding of the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 3, which incorporates health-related goals? Can the ideas of access to medicines and minimum core obligations provide assistance in prioritising health needs given scarce health resources?


The event will be chaired by the Dean of the Dickson Poon School of Law, Professor Gillian Douglas.


The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG is an international jurist, educator and former judge. He served as a Deputy President of the Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission (1975-83); Chairman of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975-84); Judge of the Federal Court of Australia (1983-4); President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal (1984-96); President of the Court of Appeal of Solomon Islands (1995-96) and Justice of the High Court of Australia (1996-2009). He has undertaken many international activities for the United Nations, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the OECD and the Global Fund Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

Professor John Tasioulas joined The Dickson Poon School of Law in September, 2014 as the inaugural Chair of Politics, Philosophy & Law and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law. He has degrees in Law and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a D.Phil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He was previously a Lecturer in Jurisprudence at the University of Glasgow and Reader in Moral and Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford, where he taught from 1998-2010. His most recent appointment was as Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London.


Eleni Antoniadou is a former President of the European Health Parliament and co-founder of the startup Transplants Without Donors, which aims to jumpstart the use of lab-generated organs in clinical transplants. In 2011, she directly contributed to research that enabled the world’s first successful completely artificial organ transplant, helping to craft an artificial trachea for a 36-year-old late-stage cancer patient. Her burgeoning research career has seen remarkable success at every stage: While continuing her graduate work in regenerative medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she was selected to participate in courses at the NASA Academy, where she remains a visiting researcher.

Sarah Hawkes is a medical doctor with a degree in sociology and a PhD in epidemiology. She is Professor of Global Public Health at University College London where she leads a research theme analysing the use of evidence in policy processes, particularly in relation to gender and health, and sexual health. She is also Director of the newly established UCL Centre for Gender and Global Health.Sarah has lived and worked for much of the past 20 years in Asia, where she has gathered evidence, built capacity and helped develop policy for programmes focusing on gender, sexual health and rights.

Gorik Ooms is a human rights lawyer and a global health scholar, Professor of Global Health Law & Governance at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Adjunct Professor at the Law Faculty of Georgetown University, and Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of Ghent University. Between 1990 and 2008, he worked with Médecins Sans Frontières Belgium in different positions, and as Executive Director from August 2004 until June 2008. He was a member of the Lancet-University of Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health and is a member of the Lancet-O’Neill Institute, Georgetown University Commission on Global Health and the Law.

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