Health and Human Rights
Vol 13, No 2 (2011) December
Papers in Press (Issue 14.1, June 2012)
Bridging international law and rights-based litigation: Mapping health-related rights through the development of the Global Health and Human Rights Database
Benjamin Mason Meier, Helena Nygren-Krug, Oscar A. Cabrera, Ana Ayala, Lawrence O. Gostin
The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, the World Health Organization, and the Lawyers Collective have come together to develop a searchable Global Health and Human Rights Database that maps the intersection of health and human rights in judgments, international and regional instruments, and national constitutions. Where states long remained unaccountable for violations of health-related human rights, litigation has arisen as a central mechanism in an expanding movement to create rights-based accountability. Facilitated by the incorporation of international human rights standards in national law, this judicial enforcement has supported the implementation of rights-based claims, giving meaning to states’ longstanding obligations to realize the highest attainable standard of health. Yet despite these advancements, there has been insufficient awareness of the international and domestic legal instruments enshrining health-related rights and little understanding of the scope and content of litigation upholding these rights. As this accountability movement evolves, the Global Health and Human Rights Database seeks to chart this burgeoning landscape of international instruments, national constitutions, and judgments for health-related rights. Employing international legal research to document and catalogue these three interconnected aspects of human rights for the public’s health, the Database’s categorization by human rights, health topics, and regional scope provides a comprehensive means of understanding health and human rights law. Through these categorizations, the Global Health and Human Rights Database serves as a basis for analogous legal reasoning across states to serve as precedents for future cases, for comparative legal analysis of similar health claims in different country contexts, and for empirical research to clarify the impact of human rights judgments on public health outcomes.