Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Right of Young People to Health and Gender Identities

Pan American Health Organization.The present report is the result of PAHO’s technical cooperation conducted in eleven countries1 with the collaboration of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Guatemala. The aim of this report is to promote and protect the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standards of health (“right to health”) and other related human rights and fundamental freedoms of young people and women and men in situation of vulnerability (including people living with HIV, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons, designated collectively under the acronym LGBTI persons).

The report is divided into six sections. The first section is dedicated to analyzing young’s people “right to health” and other related human rights, including the interpretation of young’s peoples right to health under General Comment no. 14. The second section is an analysis of the evolution of the categories and concepts of health, gender, sex, “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” in international human rights law and an explanation of the need to expand the scope of the right to health, especially in the context of young people.

The third section explains the fieldwork conducted by PAHO and the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Guatemala, to promote the “right to health” of young people, which provided the basic information and findings to produce this report. Section four is a summary of the targets for public health action based on the findings and section five includes the summaries of the findings from 11 workshops identifying preliminary “trends” related to the human rights and fundamental freedoms of young peoples. Finally, section six includes a case study that demonstrates that appropriate interventions in the form of training workshops on international human rights norms and standards, and using the recommendations of the UN treaty bodies can open the way for the reform of national policies, plans and programs to ensure their conformity to international human rights norms and standards as provided by those bodies and PAHO technical guidelines.

Every Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) Member State has taken on international legal obligations with regard to human rights. Most obligations emanate from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which consists of 30 articles that represent the basic rights and freedoms to which all human beings are entitled, and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (“American Declaration”).

One characteristic of these human rights and freedoms is that they are interdependent; that is, each human right and freedom is indispensable for the exercise and enjoyment of other human rights and freedoms.The application of the UDHR, the American Declaration, and other international and regional human rights instruments in the context of health have been embraced by PAHO Member States, which have stressed that existing international and regional standards and technical guidelines must be taken into account when formulating health plans, policies, programs, and laws concerning groups in situation of vulnerability.