Health and Human Rights

Health Law

For the United Nations, the rule of law refers to a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards.

What is Health law?

Health law refers to a statute, ordinance or code that prescribes sanitary standards and regulations for the purpose of promoting and preserving the community's health. (Black's Law Dictionary, 8th ed. 2004)

Public health law concerns the legal powers and duties of the state to assure the conditions for people to be healthy (e.g., to identify, prevent, and ameliorate risks to health in the population) and the limitations on the power of the state to constrain the autonomy, privacy, liberty, proprietary, or other legally protected interests of individuals for the protection or promotion of community health. (Gostin, L: Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint, 1st ed. 2000)

The role of the Health Law team is:

  • Assist countries in the development of appropriate health laws adapted to their needs;
  • Act as adviser for Headquarters and Regional Offices on health law;
  • Develop tools for technical cooperation such as legislative guidelines;
  • Ensure global transfer of information through the International Digest of Health Legislation and the Recueil international de Législation sanitaire.

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Contact

Gender, Equity and Human Rights
E-mail: ger@who.int