2013 Global School on Socioeconomic Rights

Alicia Ely Yamin

“Be engaged, ask questions, and come with high expectations.” – Course Participant

Media Coverage: Harvard Gazette; HSPH News

HRWC Program Director Alicia Yamin during the Global School on Socioeconomic Rights.
HRWC Program Director Alicia Ely Yamin during the Global School on Socioeconomic Rights.

The FXB Center’s Program on the Health Rights of Women and Children (HRWC) hosted the second annual course on health rights litigation from September 16 – 20, 2013, as part of the Global School on Socioeconomic Rights. This one-week intensive course offers participants an opportunity to develop specialist-level knowledge in relation to litigating health-related rights at the national, regional, and international levels. Topics covered during the course included: sexual and reproductive health and rights; rights issues arising in health-care settings; palliative care; approaches to health-care rationing and factors to consider in assessing the equity impacts of judgments; access to medicines and  intellectual property; judicial legitimacy in deciding issues with budgetary and policy implications; and judicial effectiveness and impact of judgments.

Instructors included globally renowned experts from Harvard University (USA); the University of Oslo and the University of Bergen (Norway); the University of the Andes (Colombia); as well as leading practitioners from Human Rights Watch and the Center for Reproductive Rights. The participatory course, composed of seminars and group exercises, was conducted in English and utilized case-based teaching and learning methodologies. Representing twenty-four countries from regions around the world, forty-four participants, including policymakers; professors; practicing lawyers and judges; and public health professionals attended the course.

Participants during a session of the 2013 Global School.
Participants during a session of the 2013 Global School.

The feedback for the course was overwhelmingly positive. One participant succinctly summarized the experience: “Great course, quite high level, diverse perspectives highlighted, interesting blend of academics and practitioners.”

Another wrote: “[T]his course goes beyond the nice language of conventions to the realities of resources as well as practical issues like how to frame arguments. The Colombian and Latin American cases were crucial for south-south comparisons beyond South Africa and India.”

In conjunction with the course, Health and Human Rights, the FXB Center’s peer-reviewed open access journal under the editorship of Paul Farmer, Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School, will release a special issue on health rights litigation, which will be guest edited by Alicia Ely Yamin, Lecturer on Global Health and Director of HRWC. Participants in the course will have the opportunity to submit papers related to the health rights litigation topics addressed during the course.


Participants in the 2013 Global School course on Harvard's campus.
Participants in the 2013 Global School course on Harvard’s campus.

Photo credits: Emily Cuccarese / Office for External Relations, HSPH (top); Alicia Ely Yamin