Part I: Gender and Health in the Context of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change

By Marlies Hesselman, University of Groningen Faculty of Law, PhD Candidate,

On  16 October 2017, GHLG member Marlies Hesselman participated in an event on the new CEDAW General Recommendation on Gender and Disaster Risk Reduction in a Changing Climate. This two-part post is based on her commentary in response to the presentation of the Draft General Recommendation by CEDAW Committee member Hilary Gbedemah, and is published on the occasion of COP23 in Bonn.

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A New Access to Medicines Initiative: Medicines Law & Policy

By Jacquelyn Veraldi, University of Groningen,

This week during the WHO’s 70th World Health Assembly, GHLG member Ellen ‘t Hoen announced the launch of the new website, ‘Medicines Law & Policy’, established with colleagues Pascale Boulet and Kaitlin Mara, all experts in intellectual property and access to medicines.  ML&P provides expertise in the form of policy and legal analyses, best practice models, and other information to work toward the goal of ensuring the availability of effective, safe, and affordable medicines for all.
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Voices in the Field: Robert Simons

Robert Simons has gained extensive knowledge as a practitioner working with human rights. Simons was previously the Nurse Director of the Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and has international healthcare experience in Sudan, Pakistan and Vietnam.  Currently, he serves as a Chair of IFHHRO, the Medical Human Rights Network.  In the following video, Simons joins Voices in the Field* to discuss his time working in a Sudanese refugee camp and with Romanian political prisoners, and to share one important message with colleagues and decision makers.

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Milieudefensie and Others v the State: Will the Dutch State Be Ordered to Reduce Air Pollution?

By Mirjam Beeftink, University of Groningen, m.l.beeftink(at)

At the time of writing there is a remarkable case pending in the Netherlands concerning the effects of air pollution on the health of the population. Two foundations and 57 individual plaintiffs have launched a case against the Dutch State in which they ask the court to order the State to reduce air pollution below the European maxima to the norms set in the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on air quality. If the case is successful, this will have significant consequences for the government as it will be ordered to protect the health of its citizens in a more effective manner by improving air quality. What are the chances of the plaintiffs succeeding in winning the case?

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‘Equitable access to controlled medicine: between drug control and human rights in post-market access in low- and middle income countries’ – Conference report

By Marie Elske Gispen, Utrecht University,

On 8 and 9 October 2015 several GHLG members participated in a symposium on ‘Equitable access to controlled medicine: between drug control and human rights in post-market access in low- and middle income countries’ (co-organized by Marie Elske Gispen, Utrecht University). Marie Elske presented the preliminary conclusions of her Ph.D. research on access to controlled medicines at this meeting. GHLG fellows Brigit Toebes and Hans Hogerzeil commented on her work from a legal and global health perspective respectively. Brigit mainly touched upon the question whether or not the normative framework of the right to health is sufficiently equipped to further access to medicine provision. Hans particularly reflected on the progress, or lack thereof, made so far in the area of access to (controlled) medicines. GHLG fellow Katrina Perehudoff joined on the second day of the symposium as participant.

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Court decision in the case concerning the close ties between the Dutch Government and the tobacco industry (November 9th, 2015): no violation of Article 5(3) FCTC

Brigit Toebes, University of Groningen,

Summary in Dutch: in september 2014 dagvaardde de Stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd de Staat in een zaak betreffende de nauwe banden tussen de overheid en de tabaksindustrie. De zaak is voornamelijk gebaseerd op Artikel 5 lid 3 van het WHO-Kaderverdrag inzake tabaksontmoediging van de Wereldgezondheidsorganisatie. Op 9 november deed de Rechtbank Den Haag uitspraak in deze zaak. De rechter oordeelde dat Artikel 5 lid 3 WHO-Kaderverdrag geen rechtstreekse werking heeft. Geciteerd uit de samenvatting van de uitspraak: ‘De stichting Rookpreventie Jeugd kan deze bepaling dus niet inroepen om de Staat de verplichten meer maatregelen te nemen om de invloed van de tabaksindustrie tegen te gaan. Artikel 5 lid 3 kan ook niet als een substantiering worden gezien van het in mensenrechtenverdragen verankerde recht op leven en gezondheid. Evenmin kan het via de zorgvuldigheidsnorm van artikel 6:162 BW worden ingeroepen.’ Voor een bespreking vooraf van deze zaak zie de bijdrage van Brigit Toebes in Nederlands Juristenblad, Afl 37, 30 oktober 2015.

English – on November 9th, 2015 the Court of First Instance in The Hague took a decision in the case concerning the close ties between the Dutch Government and the tobacco industry. The Court ruled that Article 5(3) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which requires States Parties to protect their tobacco control and public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry, does not have direct effect.

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Ebola in West Africa: Lessons to Strengthen the WHO International Health Regulations

By Thomas Mulder, LLB

The Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa has caused over 11,000 reported deaths. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been widely criticized for its late response to the outbreak and has pledged to reform its organization. However, many in the field of global health law remain deeply concerned by the struggles of the international community to find effective ways to prevent spread of disease. From a legal perspective, the Ebola crisis raises the question what obligations states and WHO have under international law to prevent (international) spread of contagious disease and whether these rules are effective in reality.

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