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Health, Human Rights, and the International System (GHP 214)

Instructor- Professor Stephen Marks

Venue- Harvard School of Public Health – Kresge 202A (HSPH)

Dates – 3/19/2018 to 5/11/2018

Time – Thursday at 3:45 pm – 7:00 pm


This course is designed to provide an overview of the way international institutions deal with health and human rights issues. Focus will be on the responses of the United Nations system, including the World Health Organization (WHO), regional organizations, and non-state actors to some of the pressing issues of health from a human rights perspective. Issues to be explored include: mother-to-child transmission of HIV and ARV drug pricing in Africa; traditional practices, such as female genital cutting (FGC); forced sterilization and rights of indigenous people in Latin America; accountability for mass violations of human rights; health of child workers; and international tobacco control. Among the international institutions to be examined are the WHO, UNAIDS, the World Trade Organization (WTO), UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the Organization of American States, the World Bank, and the International Criminal Court (ICC). The principal teaching method is simulation of actual cases, in which students prepare and present positions of various protagonists, based on research into those positions. The ultimate aim of the course is to prepare students to work for and interact professionally with international institutions to advance the health and human rights objectives, whether through governmental, intergovernmental or nongovernmental processes.