142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Why Progressive Realization is Holding Health Back: Human Rights, International Law, and the Post-Millennial Development Goals Agenda

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 1:10 PM - 1:30 PM

Michael Ulrich, JD, MPH , Yale Law School, New Haven, CT
The post-2015 agenda has become an increasingly important topic as the end of the Millennium Development Goals nears.  While the goal to halve the amount of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation has been achieved, 2.5 billion people still live without access to the water they need.  Considering that the 1977 United Nations Water Conference stated that all people should have adequate and safe water for drinking and sanitation by 1990, this presentation argues that a significant reason the goal set 37 years ago is still 2.5 billion people short is the failure to integrate and analyze the impact that the human rights structure, and the resulting legal rights they provide, have on achieving this goal.  This presentation utilizes a case from the South African Constitutional Court, Mazibuko & Others v. The City of Johannesburg, to illustrate how the human rights concept of progressive realization is contributing to the slow progress on the fundamental right to water.  By analyzing the court’s opinion, it becomes apparent that progressive realization enables governments to eschew their obligations to their citizens and limits the ability of the people to hold their government’s accountable.  While progressive realization incorporates the practicalities of limited resources, this case reveals how the burden can conveniently fall on those who are less fortunate.  This case confirms that applying progressive realization to a right so critical to life as the right to water is a violation of human rights and holding back advancement of global health.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Explain how progressive realization in international human rights impacts international jurisprudence and the connection that impact has on limiting health outcomes.

Keyword(s): Human Rights, Health Law

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have training, education, and experience in the areas of law, bioethics, and public health, with research and scholarly writing on topics in these fields that have been published in journals such as the American Journal of Bioethics, Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Michigan State Journal of Law & Medicine, Vanderbilt Health Law & Public Policy Forum, Maryland Journal of Health Care, Law & Policy, and the World Stem Cell Report.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.