Research and publications

Recent Publications

PhD Research

Accountability for violations of the right to health in China: Yi Zhang  studies the implementation of ‘right to the highest attainable standard of health’ at the national level and discusses what role ‘accountability ’ could play in the protection of this human right. Taking China as a case study, this research explores the practical application of the right to health accountability in light of China’s realities.

Vulnerability and (forced) migration: Veronika Flegar focuses on vulnerability in the context of (forced) migration. Through a mixed method analysis that combines legal positivistic interpretation with a quantitative content analysis, Veronika investigates and compares the development, meaning and content of vulnerability in legal documents and case law of the European and Inter-American refugee and human rights law frameworks. Special attention is paid to the characteristics and individual rights of as well as to the state obligations with regard to persons with a medical condition and unaccompanied minors. The research aims to clarify the meaning and content of vulnerability in expulsion cases and to provide an operationalized legal standard of vulnerability in that regard.

Sexual and Reproductive Health: Lucía Berro Pizzarossa focuses on sexual and reproductive health in the Latin American context. She intends to analyse the meaning of “Reproductive Rights” as a category embedded in the “Right to Health” and define whether or not reproductive rights can be conceptually considered human rights under international law, as well as the extent to which they are recognized by the international instruments and national jurisdictions. Using a human-rights and gender-based approach, Lucia aspires to produce a critical interpretation of the policy-making procedures and legal practices.

Access to medicines: Katrina Perehudoff studies model legislation for universal access to medicines. Katrina’s research will describe the actual content of States’ minimum core obligations to provide essential medicines under international law. Moreover, this research will yield robust examples of domestic legislation promoting universal access to medicines that can serve as model laws for low and middle income countries striving to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and advisory organisations, such as the World Health Organisation, working to support them.

Universal access to modern energy services: Marlies Hesselman focuses on universal access to modern services, which is a new international development goal of the UN (draft SDG 7.1) and greatly impacts on the health of millions of people world wide. In fact, the premature deaths resulting from NCDs due to lack of access to electricity or poor cooking facilities have been referred to as the ‘forgotten 3 million’ by the WHO. Marlies’ work in the field of energy focuses on the relationship between energy poverty and human rights law mostly, and supports that ‘electricity access’ and ‘clean cooking facilities’ are parts of the”social determinants” of the right to health – both according to the UN Commitee on ESCR and the WHO. Marlies’ other research interests include: human rights and the environment/right to a healty environment, human rights and Sustainable Development Goals (incl. non-state actors and financing for development) and human rights and natural and man-made disasters. In all these settings health is a major concern.

Other Research Projects

Tobacco Control: GHLG’s Platform for Tobacco Control pays attention to the fight against smoking in the Netherlands and around the world. It brings together experts from law, medicine and civil society and it seeks to generate a discussion on this matter from the perspectives of law, governance and (medical) ethics. Early 2015, we organized a panel discussion to discuss the most important and influential standard in this field: the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). This important instrument was adopted in 2003 within the context of the World Health Organization (WHO) and has now 180 parties, including the Netherlands. Among other issues the treaty obliges States Parties to take price and other measures to reduce the demand for tobacco, to regulate the exposure to tobacco smoke, while it also encourages states to prohibit the sale to minors. 

Essential Laws for Medicine Access (ELMA): Each nation has its own unique legal and healthcare systems that shape medicines prescribing and access, making each nation a laboratory for pharmaceutical policy experiments. This research investigates domestic laws and policies that promote universal access in select countries using the WHO’s Framework for Equitable Access to Medicines. Each country profile developed in this project provides an overview of the domestic legal and healthcare contexts followed by a selection of relevant national laws using primary legal sources, wherever possible. Domestic legislation uncovered in this project is used in ongoing PhD research to identify model laws for universal access to medicines using a human rights approach.

Constitutional Health Commitments: Recognised in international law, the right to health and essential medicines is increasingly enshrined in national constitutions. Constitutional obligations can provide a framework from which national health policies and laws can be formulated. Constitutional commitments can be revised or replaced entirely, allowing for the scope of health rights to be changed over time. Health programmes, born from policies and laws, can yield positive health outcomes and the individual realisation of health rights. Therefore, constitutional law has the potential to impact individual health circumstances. This research assesses constitutional commitments to the right to health and essential medicines in order to identify favourable right to health texts. The resulting text can serve as a baseline indicator of each State’s commitment to the right to health and essential medicines. Favourable text can serve as a resource for committed governments seeking to enhance their constitutional obligations to the right to health and access to essential medicines. This research investigates one means of advancing access to healthcare and compliments WHO’s efforts to enhance health rights.


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