The WTO Plain Packaging Reports: Some Reflections

By Pedro Villarreal, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law,, and Brigit Toebes, University of Groningen,

In June 2018, the WTO – Tobacco Plain Packaging panel reports were published. The four reports contain the findings of the WTO panels in the disputes launched in 2012­–2013 by Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Indonesia, against the introduction of plain tobacco packaging in Australia. This blog post provides some overall reflections on the outcomes of this case. The starting point for these reflections is a side event organised by the Global Health Law Committee of the International Law Association (ILA) on Tuesday 21 August 2018, during the ILA’s biannual conference in Sydney.

plain packaging

Continue reading


Expanding smoking bans in public spaces in light of international law


By Marie Elske Gispen, University of Groningen,

Recently, three institutions in Rotterdam jointly wrote a letter to the city’s mayor to ask the municipality to adopt a smoking ban for the streets that connect their premises via municipal regulation.[1] The parties – the city’s main university hospital, university of applied sciences, and one of the city’s secondary schools – are all located next to or near to each other. In order to protect their students, staff, patients, and visitors, they want to create a smoke-free zone in and immediately around their premises.[2] While the institutions can adopt smoke-free policies on their own premises, they prefer a fully smoke-free zone because they do not want to send smokers who violate their internal smoking policies to neighbouring institutions who likewise try to enforce their own smoking ban.[3]

Continue reading

Traditional Medicine Practice and the Right to Mental Health in Ghana

By Natalie Schuck, LL.M., PhD student, 

Traditional health care, including herbal and faith-based healing, is practised in many countries across the world. In Ghana, it has played a key role in providing health care over the past centuries and is still widely used as an alternative to allopathic medicine. It is speculated that around 80% of Ghanaians first turn to traditional health providers before making use of allopathic clinics.[1] However, in regard to regulating traditional practice or the collaboration with the allopathic sector to ensure quality mental health care, little legislation exists, hindering the capacity of many in their ability to fully access their right to mental health.

arc-411682_1920 Continue reading

Opmerkingen bij de notitie Dwanglicenties van B.J. Bruins, Minister voor Medische Zorg.

By Ellen ‘t Hoen, Global Health Unit Department of Health Sciences, UMCG Groningen,

Op 15 juni 2018 stuurde Minister Bruins een notitie over dwanglicenties aan de Tweede Kamer. In deze briefing maken wij een aantal voorlopige opmerkingen op de notitie van de Minister. Vragen en opmerkingen zijn welkom:

Continue reading

Voices in the Field: Eva Zhang

In celebration of her upcoming PhD defence on 28 May, Voices in the Field interviewed Eva Zhang about her experience as a researcher specialising in the right to health in China. Zhang’s thesis, entitled ‘Advancing the Right to Health Care in China – Towards Accountability’ looked into accountability for the implementation of the right to health in China, and the various mechanisms such accountability might take. Zhang is also the Chinese liaison of the GHLG Research Centre, in which she establishes relationships between universities and research institutions in the Netherlands and China.

Continue reading

Let’s talk about the sugartax – Laten we praten over de suikertaks

By Professor Brigit Toebes, Academic Director, Global Health Law Groningen Research Centre

English: The sugar tax does not receive the attention it deserves in the Netherlands. Research indicates that a price increase of fizzy drinks in particular can reduce its consumption. It is time for a more concerted governmental, societal, and scientific debate in the Netherlands about the pros and cons of this measure.

Nederlands: de suikertaks krijgt niet de aandacht die hij verdient in Nederland. Onderzoek toont aan dat een prijsverhoging van met name frisdrank de consumptie ervan kan verlagen, hetgeen kan bijdragen aan het terugdringen van overgewicht.

Continue reading