Contemporary Transformations Seen in the Use of Human Rights

Tine Destrooper and Sally E. Merry Human rights are increasingly described as in crisis. The rising populist tide that puts nation, religion, and race first poses new kinds of threats to human rights. But are human rights, underpinning the universal order of justice, really on the verge of disappearing? It is certainly the case that many human rights institutions have become more bureaucratic and stodgy and that human rights organizations…

WHO Fair Pricing Forum: Watching for Drug Industry Accountability

Katrina Perehudoff and Jennifer Sellin Expensive medicines are a ubiquitous challenge from which no government is immune. Excessive price hikes are an urgent human rights issue with serious ramifications for public health. One such example is that of Truvada (emtricitabine/tenofovir disoproxil fumarate), a breakthrough medicine that can be taken once a day to lower the risk of HIV infection (called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP). In the United States, Truvada costs…

Christchurch: Human Rights and Compassion

Carmel Williams New Zealanders were as shocked as the rest of the world; our self image as a peaceful people living in a haven remote from the ugly realities of populist politics, white supremacy, and hate speech was shattered on Friday afternoon, 15 March. In the space of 30 minutes, one gunman killed 50 Muslims praying in two separate mosques, and seriously injured another 50. New Zealand is a known…

Beating the Pharma Shell Game: When Health Rights are at Stake

Fran Quigley A trillion-dollar industry is in trouble and it is fighting back. A Harvard-Politico poll taken after the 2018 elections showed that both Republican and Democrat voters cite prescription drug pricing as the top priority for this new Congress. A new Kaiser Family Foundation survey reveals that nearly one in three US adults don’t take their medicines as prescribed at some point each year because of the cost. The…

Ranking Political Pitches Aimed at Reducing Drug Costs

Fran Quigley The cost of medicines is a top priority for the new US Congress according to a post-election Harvard poll. Each year, one in five Americans skips doses or fails to fill prescriptions because of the inaccessibly high prices, denying people their rights to healthcare. Medicines are priced as high as $750,000 per patient, and costs for many drugs have doubled or even tripled in recent years. When public outrage builds, politicians scramble to respond.…

Rights-Based Approach to the Overdose Crisis: Don’t Leave Pain Patients Behind

Laura Mills and Diederik Lohman In her recent blog, “America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Rights-Based Approach,” Juliet Sorensen outlines key elements of a rights-based response to the overdose crisis that is claiming tens of thousands of lives in the United States each year. Human Rights Watch wholeheartedly agrees that a human rights framework should be fundamental to any response to the overdose epidemic, but that it should not undermine the rights…

Rights-Based Approach to Overdose Epidemic Must Include Decriminalization

Diederik Lohman and Kasia Malinowska In her blog “America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Rights-Based Approach”, Juliet Sorensen argues that the United States must commit “resources to proven interventions and the highest attainable standard of care” to turnaround an overdose crisis that is killing tens of thousands of Americans every year. While we agree with Sorensen’s call for more funds, we would argue that a measure that does not require resources—indeed, that…

America’s Opioid Epidemic: A Rights-Based Approach

Juliet S. Sorensen America’s opioid epidemic has devastated communities across the country, killing 70,000 people in 2017. Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have been increasing since at least 1999. The epidemic spread in 2010 with rapid increases in overdose deaths involving heroin, and further spiked in 2013, with significant increases in overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. If we address America’s opioid epidemic from the premise that there is a right…

Politics Deny Cancer Patients their Health Rights in Gaza

Dana Moss and Mor Efrat In early 2017, 39-year-old Faida Abeed from Deir al Balah, Gaza, felt a lump in her breast. She was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent chemotherapy treatment and excision of the tumor. The necessary follow-up treatment is radio-iodine therapy and for that she would need to leave Gaza as the treatment is unavailable in the Strip. In October 2017, after receiving confirmation that she had…

Human Rights Day Message—Put Human Rights in Global Drug Policy

José Ramos-Horta Around the world, people have experienced one of the most widespread and shameful human rights failures of our time—the global war on drugs. Barely a day passes without some tragedy or abuse fuelled by misguided drug policies hitting the headlines. Day by day, the costs of the war on drugs are tallied in the suffering, death, and missed opportunities across the entire drugs market chain, from production to…