Seminar Series – Power, Suffering and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter
615 N. Wolfe Street
Professor Yamin will articulate a vision of what applying a human rights framework to health can mean, and why it matters at this particular point in history in particular. In doing so, she will analyze shortcoming in the ways that human rights frameworks and human rights-based approaches are sometimes conceptualized and applied and why this should concern us. She will also provide examples from her own experience of how different aspects of human rights-based approaches to health have been promoted in concrete contexts by different actors, what it has meant in real people’s lives — and what can we learn from these experiences.
Alicia Ely Yamin is an Adjunct Lecturer on Global Health and Population at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and affiliated faculty member of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
She currently leads the Global Health and Rights Project, which is a collaboration of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics (PFC) at Harvard Law School and the Global Health Education and Learning Incubator (GHELI) at Harvard University. Yamin is a Senior Adviser and collaborates closely with the Bergen Center for Ethics and Priority Setting (BCEPS) in Norway, as part of her research and policy work.
Trained in both law and public health at Harvard, Yamin’s 20+-year career at the intersection of global health and human rights has bridged academia and activism, in law and global health/development. Yamin has lived and worked in Latin America and East Africa for half of her professional life, working with and through local advocacy organizations. In Peru, Yamin co-founded the Program on Human Rights and Health in the Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos; in East Africa, she participated in establishing a regional network on health rights litigation. At Harvard, Yamin established the Health Rights component of the Global School on Socio-Economic Rights, bringing practitioners, and high court justices from around the world for an annual intensive course. Yamin has taught academic courses and strategic activism relating to advancing health and social equality in English and Spanish, in Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, and Norway, as well as the United States.
Known globally for her pioneering and transdiciplinary scholarship in relation to economic and social rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the right to health, Yamin has contributed to multiple human rights treaty General Comments/Recommendations, UN Special Procedure consultations, and reports prepared for Human Rights Council resolutions. She regularly drafts amicus curiaebriefs, and provides expert testimony and more informal guidance, to domestic and supra-national tribunals and legislative bodies around the globe, relating to the application of international and constitutional law to health issues.
In 2016, the UN Secretary General appointed Yamin as one of nine international global health experts to the Independent Accountability Panel (IAP) for the Global Strategy on Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Yamin also serves on the WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Health Technology Assessments for Universal Health Coverage in the SDGs. She has served on numerous WHO, PAHO, World Bank and UN Task Forces, Steering Committees, and Technical Advisory Groups, as well as Lancet Commissions, including currently the Lancet-Dartmouth Commission on Arctic Health.
Yamin has published dozens of scholarly articles in both law journals and peer-reviewed public health journals. Her recent book, Power, Suffering and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter, with a foreword by Paul Farmer (UPenn, 2016) is now available in Spanish (Ediciones UniAndes, 2018). Her latest book, When Misfortune becomes Injustice: Evolving Human Rights Struggles for Health and Social Equityis forthcoming from Stanford University Press (2020).
Yamin was a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) for 15 years and the Chair from 2009-2014 (Vice-Chair, 2001-2009). She remains on the Global Advisory Council of CESR. She is also on the Board of Directors of Women in Global Health, and chairs the advisory council of the Health Law Institute, which respectively promote women’s leadership and health workers’ rights in global health.