Author: Ip Tsz Yan Natalie, BBA (Law) IV; HKU

Date: 7/8/10

United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General comment No.14 (2000) on the Right to the Highest Attainable standard of Health (Art 12) (1)

“. . . the right to health embraces a wide range of socio-economic factors that promote conditions whereby people can lead a healthy life and extends to the underlying determinants of health including healthy environment.

The Committee interprets the right to health extending to the underlying determinants of health such as environmental conditions . . . Art 12(2)(a) may be understood as requiring measures to improve child and maternal health, sexual and reproductive health services, including access to family planning, pre- and post natal care, emergency obstetric services and access to information, as well as to resources necessary to act on that information. Art 12(2)(b) includes the prevention and reduction of the population’s exposure to harmful substances such as radiation and harmful chemicals or other chemicals or other detrimental environmental conditions that directly or indirectly impact upon human health.

. . .

The right to health like all human rights, imposes three types or levels of obligations on State parties: the obligation to respect (not to interfere the right), protect (to take measures that prevent third parties from interfering) and fulfill (adopt appropriate legislative, administrative budgetary, judicial promotional and other measures towards the full realization of the right to health.)”


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