Values, Policies and Rights

Call for Action on HIV/AIDS-related Human Rights Abuses against Women and Girls in Africa

This report from Human Rights Watch details cases of abuse of women and girls that increase susceptibility to HIV/AIDS. It reviews regional and national legal regimes and makes recommendations for policy action against manifestations of HIV/AIDS human rights abuses against women and girls. The cases demonstrate that the illness, mortality, abuse, and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS are due, to a large extent, to a long tradition of subordination and violent abuse of women and girls in Africa. It argues that reformed national laws and policies to date have not been effective in counteracting this tradition and abusive practices condoned in customary law have exacerbated the problem.

Call for governments to curb human rights abuses of migrants
December 18: 17 December 2009

Despite the increased efforts of the international community, including civil society, in promoting sound, equitable, humane and lawful conditions of migration, migrants continue being exposed to commoditisation and human rights violations. Building on recommendations by the Committee on Migrant Workers, December 18 strongly recommends that all states implement gender-sensitive legislation that extends the protections of international labour standards to migrant workers. It also calls on Governments to curb abuses of recruitment agencies, enhance legal channels for migration and open up judicial mechanisms to victims of abuse, regardless of their immigration status. The situation of migrant children also remains a particular concern, especially those who are unaccompanied and at risk of being smuggled or trafficked. All migrants are protected by human rights and labour standards, including the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, regardless of immigration status. Migrant children—whether accompanied or not and whatever their migratory status—are equally entitled to all the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. December 18 urges all states to ratify and implement the International Convention for the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2010.

Call for support for the provision of essential medicines in Africa
Lyznik K: The African Commission on Access to Medicines and Human Rights in Africa, September 15 2008

Essential medicines must be physically accessible (available), economically accessible (affordable) and must be administered without discrimination. To help ensure this, the HIV Clinical Group at Pretoria University, in conjunction with PIJIP and WCL clinic students, is working to gather widespread NGO support for a submission before the African Commission during its meeting in Abuja, Nigeria from the 10th to the 24th of November. This submission will call upon the African Commission to adopt an interpretation of the right to health under the African Charter, which mirrors the one provided by General Comment 14 to the ICESCR, specifically recognising that access to medicines is a crucial component to the right to health. Furthermore, upon recognising that the right to health includes the components of accessibility, availability, acceptability, and good quality of medicines, the submission will call upon the African Commission, in the future, to use these standards as a means to uniformly monitor the state’s compliance with the right to health.

Call to Action and Youth Statement
Third African Conference on sexuality health and rights, Abuja, Nigeria, 4-7 February 2008

Participants at the Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights affirm that Sexual Rights are an integral and inalienable part of basic Human Rights. This requires that African states be accountable to their citizens for their sexual health and rights. Participants also called for increased accountability across the African continent at all levels – governments, institutions, civil society, communities, families and individuals.

Call to spread word about contraception
Fokazi S: The Argus, 3 October 2011

The number of abortions among women older than 18 has increased steadily over the past two years in the Western Cape Province, according to South African Health MEC Theuns Botha. Responding recently in the legislature on the impact that illegal abortions have on public health care facilities, Botha said such abortions continued to take place, despite the legal service that was offered at more than 30 health care centres in the province. While health care facilities had treated a number of women with complications arising from illegal abortions, Botha said it was difficult to say how many cases there had been as those known to the department were only of women who volunteered the information during treatment. According to the latest figures from the National Health Department, between 1997 – when legal termination of pregnancy was introduced – and last year, about 702,354 abortions were performed at public health care facilities nationwide. About 528,000 of these involved teenagers. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi expressed concern about the number of teenagers who were having abortions, arguing this was proof that young people were engaging in unprotected sex and risking HIV infection. A spokesperson from Marie Stopes – a non-profit organisation offering reproductive health services – called on parents and teachers to talk openly about contraception, saying that research showed that most pregnant teenagers are in poor communities where educational and financial opportunities are limited. Women need to be made aware that abortion is not a form of contraception, she said.

Calls for inclusion of MSM in Uganda’s new HIV strategy
Plus News: 26 August 2011

A new national HIV and AIDS strategic plan for Uganda is due to be finalised before the year's end, and gay rights activists are reported in this article to be urging its authors to break with tradition and, for the first time, provide for programming for men who have sex with men (MSM). A draft version of the new strategic plan distributed to civil society organisations mentioned the MSM community by name under an introductory section outlining groups that have prevalence rates above the national average, but the strategy concluded that MSM did not play ‘a big role’ in the transmission of HIV in Uganda and did not warrant a high rank among prevention activities. The draft strategy did recommend that more research be done within communities of MSM and injecting drug users to determine whether the groups were at risk of an upsurge in new infections. However, James Kigozi, spokesman for the Uganda AIDS Commission, said that because homosexual activity was illegal in Uganda, programming for MSM was unlikely to make it into the final version on the plan.

Can foreign policy make a difference to health?
Møgedal S and Alveberg BL: PLoS Medicine 7(5), May 11, 2010

According to this article, World Health Organization (WHO) member states are responsible for directing and enabling WHO to undertake its normative and standard-setting functions effectively in facing the increasingly transnational nature of health threats, to be a trusted repository for knowledge and information, and to act as an effective convener of multiple players and stakeholders that can drive appropriate convergence, innovation, and effective decision making for health in a diverse landscape. In support of effective health governance, it states that better evidence and best practices are needed on how foreign policy can improve policy coordination at all levels and create an improved global policy environment for health. Foreign policy practitioners need to become more aware of positive and negative impact of policy options and decisions on health outcomes. This is how foreign policy can make a difference to health.

Can frameworks inform knowledge about health policy processes? Reviewing health policy papers on agenda setting and testing them against a specific priority-setting framework
Walt G and Gilson L: Health Policy and Planning 29 (suppl 3), June 2014

This article systematically reviews a set of health policy papers on agenda setting and tests them against a specific priority-setting framework. The article applies the Shiffman and Smith framework in extracting and synthesizing data from an existing set of papers, purposively identified for their relevance and systematically reviewed. Its primary aim is to assess how far the component parts of the framework help to identify the factors that influence the agenda setting stage of the policy process at global and national levels. It seeks to advance the field and inform the development of theory in health policy by examining the extent to which the framework offers a useful approach for organizing and analysing data. Applying the framework retrospectively to the selected set of papers, it aims to explore influences on priority setting and to assess how far the framework might gain from further refinement or adaptation, if used prospectively. The article also demonstrates how framework synthesis can be used in health policy analysis research.

Capacity and Consent: Empowering Adolescents to Exercise their Reproductive Rights
Centre for Reproductive Rights: Center for Reproductive Rights NY 2017

With adolescents and youth constituting a quarter of the global population – for a total of 1.8 billion people – it has never been more critical that their human rights be fully recognised and realised within global arenas and at the regional, national, and community level. This publication sets forth the barriers adolescents face in realising their sexual and reproductive health and rights, discusses recent critical developments in the human rights framework underpinning these rights, and proposes a way forward for guaranteeing all adolescents the full exercise of their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Celebrating a decade of the African Women’s Rights Protocol
Makau K: Pambazuka News 638, 11 July 2013

On 11 July 2013, the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women (the Protocol) turns 10. The author of this article argues that there is much to celebrate, as the Protocol remains one of the worlds’ most progressive women’s human rights instruments. While ratifications are a welcome measure, the provisions enshrined in the Protocol only have real meaning if governments go further and show their commitment to the protection and advancement of African women’s human rights by domesticating and fully implementing the instrument, she argues. Challenges that require mitigation exist and include limited technical and financial support in many states particularly with regard to the efforts to sensitise and build the capacity of government officials as well as the general public on the provisions of the Protocol; lack of political goodwill and weak institutional mechanisms to support the domestication and implementation of the Protocol; and lastly religious and cultural conservativism.