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Human Rights and the WTOThe Case of Patents and Access to Medicines$
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Holger Hestermeyer

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199552177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552177.001.0001

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Access to Medicine as a Human Right

Access to Medicine as a Human Right

(p.76) 3 Access to Medicine as a Human Right
Human Rights and the WTO

Holger Hestermeyer

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with a background note on international human rights law and the right to health — the most commonly mentioned basis for a right to access to medicine — as well as human rights aspects of intellectual property. It then discusses the interpretation of human rights conventions. The rights at issue are closely connected to the notion of economic, social, and cultural rights. Some authors argue that this category of human rights is of doubtful legal relevance, an objection that is treated under the heading of ‘justiciability’. The chapter also examines whether pharmaceutical companies are directly bound by these rights and whether the WTO is bound by human rights law. Finally, the right to access to medicine is discussed in detail, proceeding in the order of the sources recognized by international law as stated in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice (ICJ): international conventions, customary international law, and general principles of law.

Keywords:   access to medicine, customary international law, human rights, right to health, economic, social, and cultural rights, justiciability

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