JJUA54022U Health and Human Rights

Volume 2015/2016

Human rights and health law has developed in close collaboration after the Second World War. However, the area of ‘Health and Human Rights’ is still a new and developing area under international human rights law and international health law. In this course international human rights law is used as a framework to address a number of health and patients’ rights related issues.
These issues will be addressed from an international, but also from a national (comparative) perspective. In this way an overview is provided of the international and national legal perspectives involved in the health issue concerned.

Questions that will be addressed throughout the course are, for example: Which human rights are relevant for the protection of health and patients’ rights? Does a right to health entitle individuals to have optimal treatment?, Does a right to life embrace a ‘right to die’? ; To what extent have countries, including Denmark, enacted legislation that allows for euthanasia? Does a right to ‘reproductive health’ exist and what does it imply?; How can human rights law address the challenges provided by new technological developments as e.g. reproductive cloning and genetic testing?

The course will cover the following topics:
• Introduction to international human rights law;
• Introduction of the area of ‘health and human rights’;
• Economic, social and cultural rights and health: definition of a ‘right to health’, the principle of progressive realisation, and social determinants of health
• Civil and political human rights and health: the rights to life, the prohibition of torture, the right to privacy and family life, the right to health-related information, the right to self-determination in cases of euthanasia
• Reproductive health: abortion, sex selection, sex education, assisted reproduction services and other issues;
• Disability and health. Topics: disabled persons as a vulnerable group, the UN Disability Convention, the ‘social model’ of disability in relation to access to health care services.

Relevant case law of the European Court of Human Rights, The European Committee of Social Rights, the Human Rights Committee (HRC) and national courts will be included.

Learning Outcome

Describe the character and functioning of the international human rights instruments and mechanisms;
Identify and explain the connection between health and international human rights law,
Understand and explain the meaning and implications of the international human ‘right to health’;
Identify, discuss and put into perspective the human rights issues involved in the problems related to patients’ right to dignity, self-determination, privacy, reproductive health, as well as disability;
• Make a comparative legal analysis of particular topics such as  euthanasia and abortion;
Critically reflect upon how global, regional and national enforcement mechanisms (including courts) address various health and human rights-related topics;
Communicate and formulate her/his knowledge and arguments professionally and linguistically correct and in a structured and coherent way.

Brigit Toebes (ed:), "Health and Human Rights", Intersentia 2012 Supplementary material provided in Absalon

In total 500 pages

Learning method is very interactive and students is expected to prepare well for classes and will be required to report back to the class on the regulations in their country regarding several health issues (eg. abortion). They will also have an option to deliver short papers for discussion in class and feedback from teacher
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Preparation
  • 241
  • Seminar
  • 34
  • Total
  • 275
Type of assessment
Oral defence, 20 min
Oral exam based on synopsis, 20 minutes
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

7. - 11. December 2015 (preliminary dates)