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Dr Claire Lougarre and Dr A.M. Viens publish "The Role of the Right to Health in a "Hidden" Pandemic: Antimicrobial Resistance" on EJIL:Talk!, the blog of the European Journal of International Law

Published: 20 January 2022

Whilst the World Health Organization recognises antimicrobial resistance as one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity, no research analyses how human rights law should respond to the unique dilemma raised by States' obligations to realise the right to health for all in the face of antibiotic resistance.

The questions it raises, nonetheless, are paramount to understanding how international human rights law can adapt to contemporary and complex crises, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, how can States comply with a right that requires they secure the highest level of health possible for all, including through access to essential drugs preventing death and suffering, while restricting their use in the unique context of antibiotics where irresponsible use leads to ineffectiveness of the drug?

This blog post will highlight the silence of international human rights law on this issue, and the fact that key human rights treaties pull States parties in different directions, which affects States' ability to understand and comply with the right to health correctly. The authors argue that research is needed to clarify States' obligations to realise the right to health for all in the face of antimicrobial resistance, in order to assist international organisations when providing guidance to States. The authors also contend that the complex role of the right to health in the face of antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance, presents a unique test case allowing human rights lawyers to identify, weigh, and balance related competing claims under this right.

The blog post is available at the following link.

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