Tlaleng Mofokeng: Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health

Benjamin Mason Meier and Tamira Daniely The United Nations Human Rights Council appoints Special Rapporteurs on specific human rights themes, with these independent experts holding an official mandate to monitor violations and promote rights. Facilitating accountability for human rights realization, Special Rapporteurs support rights advancement through country missions, government communications, public statements, and Council reports. To advance the right to health, the Commission on Human Rights (the predecessor to the…

Detained Immigrant Children to be Released, but Urgent Action Needed

Katherine R. Peeler and Vidya Kumar Ramanathan Judge Dolly Gee’s recent order mandating the release of all detained immigrant children from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Family Residential Centers (FRCs) was an incredible step forward for securing the health and safety of these children. But if our country’s three family detention centers are empty of children on July 17th–the mandated deadline for release–this will not be a victory. We will…

The Silence at AIDS 2020 Virtual

Sara L.M. Davis For decades, the International AIDS Conference has successfully convened a massive biannual meeting, bringing together a diverse community of scientists, researchers, activists and officials, as well as a smattering of celebrities. At a turning point with a battered global strategy and the devastation caused by a second global pandemic, COVID-19, the global AIDS movement has never been in more urgent need of such frank and diverse conversations.…

COVID-19, Asylum, and False Binaries of Detention

Katherine R. Peeler and Scott H. Podolsky Aurelia had traveled more than 2,000 miles, mostly on foot, with her 7-year-old daughter, Heidy, to the Mexico-Arizona border from Guatemala. In her 24 years, Aurelia had endured a life of poverty, rape, and death threats to her and her daughter by her partner. Throughout, their would-be protectors—the police—did nothing. So they fled, seeking asylum in the United States. That was in 2017.…

COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP): A Promising Human Rights Approach

Katrina Perehudoff and Jennifer Sellin How do we guarantee access to COVID-19 vaccines and therapies, and secure health-related human rights for all? We’ve heard a string of promises in the race for new vaccines and therapies. European governments, Australia, Canada, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and others have pledged US$10.5 billion to develop vaccines and health products against COVID-19. Some world leaders promised that these products will be ‘global public goods’. How…

COVID-19 and Mental Health: Challenges Ahead Demand Changes 

Dainius Pūras I have no doubt that around the world we will soon be facing an increase in mental health issues in the wake COVID-19. The impact of the pandemic, and the measures taken to contain it, may well be long lasting on our mental well-being, and this is now being acknowledged by the United Nations. Prolonged mental distress will be fuelled by the direct threats associated with the spread…

COVID-19: Restricting Health Workers’ Free Speech has a Chilling Effect

Nirmalya Chaudhuri Various governments around the world have chosen to stifle freedom of speech and expression, especially that of health workers, in an attempt to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The tragic fate of Li Wenliang, the Chinese doctor who was compelled to retract his statements about the spread of the virus, did not set alarm bells ringing. Then entrenched democracies such as the United Kingdom, the United States, and India…

COVID-19 Health Disparities Expose Systemic Racism against African Americans

Prem Misir African American communities in the United States have always suffered health disparities compared to white Americans. COVID-19 impacts are continuing this pattern, and exposing human rights failings. The Washington Post reported that “…in Illinois, a disparity nearly identical to Michigan’s exists at the state level, but the picture becomes far starker when looking at data just from Chicago, where black residents have died at a rate six times…

COVID-19: Finding Comfort in Respecting Rights and Protecting the Most Vulnerable

Natalia Linos Countries across the globe have instituted radical measures in the fight against the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, to create physical distance: closing schools; shuttering shops and restaurants; asking families to barricade themselves indoors; and securing their borders. As a public health professional, I strongly support measures that encourage physical isolation (also known as social isolation), and fully trust the guidance from experts who have modeled the consequences of inaction.…

Without Addressing Human Rights We Will Never Halt the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Winnie Byanyima Winnie Byanyima answered these questions drafted by the UNAIDS Reference Group on HIV and Human Rights and posed by the Health and Human Rights Journal when she was a candidate for the position of Executive Director of UNAIDS HHRJ: What do you see as the importance of human rights in the response to HIV, globally and at country level? I have lived with the story of HIV/AIDS for most of my…