The Power and Limitations of Health as a Human Right

Room 202
Melbourne Law School
185 Pelham Street


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Professor Colleen M. Flood
University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics

Seminar: 1pm – 2pm
A light lunch will be served from 12.30pm 

Sixty-nine percent of constitutions worldwide now include a right to health or health care. The existence of a right to health is now uncontested in international human rights law and “every country in the world has accepted that human rights are universal and is bound by at least one treaty containing a provision on the right to health.” (Marks, 2013) But for all these formal declarations, extreme inequalities continue: health care spending per capita for the top 5 per cent of the world’s population is nearly 4,500 times that of the lowest 20 per cent, and 2.5 million people die annually from vaccine-preventable diseases. These statistics force us to take stock: what has the judicialisation of health rights achieved?

In this presentation, Professor Colleen M. Flood, Director of the University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, will explore the power and the limitations of the right to health. She will outline the results from a 16-country study of the right to health and argue a case for the role courts should play in realising a just right to health.

Colleen M. Flood FRSC is a University of Ottawa Research Chair in Health Law & Policy and inaugural director of the University of Ottawa Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics and a member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.

From 2017-2018 she served as associate VP Research at the University of Ottawa. From 2000-2015 she was a Professor and Canada Research Chair at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto.  From 2006-2011 she served as a Scientific Director of the Institute for Health Services and Policy Research, one of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Her four most recent books are The Right to Health at the Public/Private Divide (2014) (co-edited with Aeyal Gross and published by Cambridge University Press), Law & Mind:  Mental Health Law and Policy in Canada (2016) (co-edited with Jennifer Chandler and published by LexisNexis, Canada), Administrative Law in Context (3rd. ed.), (2018) (co-edited with Lorne Sossin and published by Emond Montgomery) and Is Two-Two Health Care the Future? (Forthcoming, 2019) (co-edited with Bryan Thomas and published by the University of Ottawa Press.)

This event is presented in partnership with the Health Law and Ethics Network