2021 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health

76th UNGA
16 July 2021

Analysis of precedential value

The spe­cial rap­por­teur on the right of every­one to the enjoy­ment of the high­est attain­able stan­dard of phys­i­cal and men­tal health is a human rights expert man­dated to report and advise on this human right. This man­date was cre­ated by the Com­mis­sion on Human Rights in April 2002 and has been peri­od­i­cally renewed since. This report con­sti­tutes an author­i­ta­tive source of expert prece­dent for the mean­ing and sig­nif­i­cance of key lan­guage. The incum­bent at the time of this report’s release was Dr Tlaleng Mofo­keng (South Africa).

The report, it notes, “is based on dis­cus­sions held by the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur with right hold­ers, civil soci­ety and other rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers, includ­ing Mem­ber States, since the begin­ning of her man­date in August 2020; infor­ma­tion con­tin­u­ously received on sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health rights, includ­ing on alleged vio­la­tions of these rights; and com­mu­ni­ca­tions sent to Mem­ber States and busi­nesses in this regard.”

Used as precedent

human rights

The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur views the prac­tice of med­i­cine as in itself a tool for the pro­mo­tion of human rights and thus health-care work­ers are key to chang­ing the patri­ar­chal and pater­nal­is­tic sys­tems of med­ical prac­tice.The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur rec­om­mends that States respect and pro­tect key prin­ci­ples of non-dis­crim­i­na­tion, equal­ity and pri­vacy, as well as the integrity, auton­omy, dig­nity and well-being of indi­vid­u­als, espe­cially in rela­tion to sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health rights.

gender equality

The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur observes a global patri­ar­chal cul­ture, a regres­sive cli­mate and push­back in the area of sex­ual and repro­duc­tive health rights and oppo­si­tion to gen­der equal­ity. Gains made in the past decades in these areas are at risk of being rolled back, with the rights and per­spec­tives of women, girls and LGB­TIQ+ per­sons side­lined.

access to health products, stigma and discrimination

The Spe­cial Rap­por­teur rec­om­mends that bio­med­ical arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) tech­nolo­gies must not per­pet­u­ate racism, sex­ism, ableism or dis­crim­i­na­tion based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der. States must elim­i­nate social and polit­i­cal inequal­i­ties in order to bridge the gen­dered dig­i­tal divide, tak­ing into account the needs of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, which includes offer­ing pro­tec­tions from dis­crim­i­na­tion and vio­lence related to uti­liza­tion of dig­i­tal tools and tech­nol­ogy.