Human Rights in Public Health: Deepening Engagement at a Critical Time
20 Health & Human Rights Journal, 85-91 (2018).
8 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2019
Date Written: December 10, 2018
This year marks the 70th anniversary of both the birth of human rights law through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the birth of global health governance through the World Health Organization (WHO). Over the past 70 years, human rights have developed under international law as a basis for public health, providing a foundation for human rights realization through public health practice. Yet this “health and human rights” movement now faces unprecedented threats amidst a shift toward populism — with the populist radical right in ascendance in the United States and in countries throughout the world.
Commemorating these twin anniversaries for human rights and global health, it is imperative — now more than ever — that scholars, practitioners, and advocates engage with human rights in public health policies, programs, and practices. Within the American Public Health Association (APHA), the newly established Human Rights Forum seeks to build the capacity of public health professionals to mainstream human rights in public health. Reflecting on the evolving engagement of health professionals to advance health and human rights, this essay examines the changing role of human rights in public health policy over the past 70 years and analyzes the continuing promise of human rights in framing public health practice into the future.
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