1. Participated in the development of General Comment 14
General Comment 14 is an amplification of Article 12 (the right to the highest attainable standard of health) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It transforms a statement of principle and four general instructions on health preservation, as perceived early in the second half of the last century, into a 65 paragraph document that comprehensively defines and clarifies contemporary standards and expectations for states parties
The General Comment is both an historic and seminal document. It will have a direct impact on health worldwide by rendering Article 12 into a powerful instrument that the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, none of whom are medical practitioners, can use to monitor the rights of the citizens of ratifying countries to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. But, importantly, it will have an even more pervasive effect on health worldwide in that it will inform the interpretation of all current, and the composition of future, health legislation – at national, regional and global levels.
In December 1998 the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) considered PHR-UKs suggestion that CESCR return to the question of the right to health as one possible topic for a day of discussion. [UN Doc. E/C.12/1998/SR.51/ Add.1]. CESCR’s decision to go ahead with a General Discussion on Article 12, from which a General Comment would spring, was made six months later, in May 1999. CESCR’s Rapporteur appointed to co-ordinate the programme spent a year consulting with a large number of NGOs and other institutions from around the world. PHR-UK hosted an international conference on this in November 1999, which was attended by invited Committee members, including the Rapporteur, and chaired by Audrey Chapman, of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. At CESCR’s open session on May 8th 2000, the Rapporteur publicly singled out the Conference as being particularly helpful to him and his colleagues.
The General Comment was approved at a closed session of CESCR on May 11th 2000 and was published in unedited form on 4 July 2000.
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2. Shadow UK report to the CESCR
In May 2002 PHR-UK submitted a parallel report on the right to the highest attainable standard of health to the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. The report was timed to coincide with the committee's assessment of the UK government's observation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR, 1966).
The report was the first to be based upon a, then newly conceived, model template being developed by the author of the guidelines that were recently published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, under the title The Right to Health: a resource manual for NGOs. PHR-UK's report provided a test bed for the proposed template, which has subsequently been adopted within the guidelines. The report is now featured within the manual as an example of a shadow report
3. Defined the importance of the right to the highest standard of health to the medical
"The importance of the International right to the highest attainable standard of Health lies in its foundation in law, its universality, its comprehensiveness, its conceptual practicality, its aspirational appeal, the immediacy of its requirement on governments to both not discriminate and take steps to achieve full realization, and, above all, its ownership by ordinary people."
Developed and taught a 10 week innovative course at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine entitled Advancing the right to health through litigation and lobbying
5. Compared the Hippocratic Oath to international law
Explored a hypothesis that traditional medical ethical codes might approximate modern human rights. A reinterpretation of the Hippocratic Oath that takes account of scientific and social advances over nearly two and a half millennia, bears comparison with contemporary patient rights as defined in international human rights law