October 30, 2023

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Key points to move forward in the prevention and treatment of noncommunicable diseases from a rights-based perspective

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) is an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS) and has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the Americas. The IACHR has thematic rapporteurships, including the Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights, which specifically supports the promotion and protection of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights.

In compliance with this mandate, the IACHR published in August 2023 the thematic report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights titled “Noncommunicable Diseases and Human Rights in the Americas.” This is the first report issued within the Inter-American Human Rights System that addresses in a broad and in-depth manner the relationship between the effective enjoyment of human rights and noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), considering them a serious problem impacting public health, sustainable development, and human rights.

The Special Rapporteur sets forth the Inter-American standards applicable to the prevention and treatment of NCDs. In exploring human rights and related obligations, the report specifically addresses the duty to regulate and supervise private actors, such as the food and beverage industry — including considerations about conflicts of interest — as well as regulatory measures such as front-of-package warning labels, marketing restrictions, fiscal measures, and school environments. It also cites measures adopted by various States in the Americas to address NCDs, offering recommendations to guide compliance with State’s human rights obligations.

Reports issued by the IACHR often inform advocacy and litigation efforts connected to policy reform at the national level. This brief was developed by the Global Center for Legal Innovation on Food Environments to facilitate such efforts by highlighting key points from this report in connection with NCD prevention and treatment.

Read the full report here (only available in Spanish).

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