Evaluating the human rights effects of health and social policy
As noted earlier, health policies, programmes and practices can promote and protect or restrict and violate human rights. A single policy can promote some rights for some groups at the same time as violating the same rights for different groups or other rights for the same groups. This can be by design, neglect or ignorance. One important set of rights-based approaches are the various forms of human rights analysis that can be used to evaluate the human rights effects of health and social policy or programmes; some authors choose to talk about this in terms of a ‘human rights impact assessment’ analysis. There are an increasing number of these in existence and the future presents excellent prospects for further development in this field. Rather than examine them all in detail, this chapter focuses on elaborating just one of these approaches after a brief review of other approaches to human rights analysis. This example is one of the first approaches to appear in the literature, yet is surprisingly absent from later coverage in reviews such as Worm (2010); it also originated within a public health and human rights context, and is an approach that public health practitioners find accessible and useful, as judged by both the author’s own students and those at Harvard and Johns Hopkins (Gostin and Laazarini 1997).