Other Health related Human Rights Issues


On the initiative of its members, WMA regularly takes positions on other human rights issues that impact on health.

Capital punishment

The abolition of death penalty is enshrined in the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (December 1989)

Children's rights

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) defines the right of the child to health as the right to “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services (article 24.1). According to article 19.1 : «States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child ».

Equality and Non-discrimination

Equality is the state of being equal, i.e. having the same rights or status. Similarly, equality before the law means the right to equal protection of the laws.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that: “All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination” (Article 7).

Right to Peace: Health Work is Peace Work

The health sector has in the last decades increasingly addressed peace issues in an explicit manner. In 1981, the World Health Assembly gave its support to the idea that the preservation and promotion of peace is ‘the most significant factor for the attainment of health for all’ (Resolution 34.38). In the WHO’s Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (1986) peace was mentioned as major prerequisite for health.
Physicians and other health professionals have certain skills, knowledge, and values, as well as tools and opportunities, that make them particularly well-equipped for peace work. These include skills in sensitive communication, knowledge about the health effects of different weapons, commitment to confidentiality and compassion, an international network, and access to people involved in or affected by armed conflict. It is the view of WMA that health is intrinsically connected to violence prevention and sustainable peace building.

Prevention of inter-personal violence

Prevention of war-related violence

The UN Declaration on the Right of Peoples to Peace (1984) provides that“ (…) Convinced that life without war serves as the primary international prerequisite for the material well-being, development and progress of countries, and for the full implementation of the rights and fundamental human freedoms proclaimed by the United Nations, (….)”

Useful link: