May 22, 2014

O’Neill Institute and Lawyers Collective Launch Global Health and Human Rights Law Database

The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, in collaboration with the Lawyers Collective and nearly 100 global partners, helped compile over 1,200 cases, international and regional legal instruments, and national constitutions into the first and only free, searchable global health and human rights database.

The database includes significant judgments from national, regional, and global jurisdictions, serving as a comprehensive repository for health and human rights litigation. It is updated continuously by colleagues from academia and civil society in more than 80 countries.

A Global Resource

The database was officially launched in 2013 during the sixty-eighth session of the United Nations General Assembly with an address by Anand Grover, UN special rapporteur on the right to health and director of the HIV/AIDS Unit of Lawyers Collective. The database currently includes over 150 original translations. Nearly 30,000 unique visitors have accessed the site, which the O’Neill Institute and Lawyers Collective hope will be the premier resource for health rights legal strategy around the globe.

Lawrence Gostin, faculty director of the O’Neill Institute and a professor at Georgetown Law, believes that the database is a tool to bring resources and people together. 

“If a lawyer needs to know what their courts have said about human rights, they will know; or their constitutions, they will know. If members of the community want to understand what human rights are and how to use them, they will be able to see it,” says Gostin. 

Law as a Tool to Advance Health

Access to comprehensive and current information from around the globe is essential for health and human rights advocates. Historically, many international cases have been difficult to locate or not freely accessible to the public. The Global Health and Human Rights Database is unique in that it is categorized by both health topic and human rights, allowing users to explore how different health topics have been treated across regions and under particular rights.

As courts in many countries increasingly turn to comparative and international law to advance the use of law for human rights, the newly available English translations are particularly helpful. 

“This database is a way to reflect on what has already happened and hopefully identify novel ways in which we can grow and advance the use of law for health,” notes Oscar Cabrera, executive director of the O’Neill Institute. As the database continues to grow, it will be a resource for both scholars and litigators promoting the legal right to health.