Health human Rights Journal  |  December 10, 2015

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This special issue of the Health and Human Rights Journal constitutes another step on the path toward making the case for human rights-based approaches (HRBAs) to health. In 2003, the United Nations (UN) outlined the pillars of an HRBA to development, which include universality and inalienability, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness, non-discrimination and equality, participation and inclusion, and accountability and the rule of law.1 Since then, leaders from national governments and UN agencies have repeatedly emphasized the need to operationalize human rights and incorporate them into the implementation of policies, programs, projects, and other health-related interventions with a view to enhancing effectiveness.2 Nevertheless, implementation efforts regarding HRBAs to health and development have faced, and continue to face, multiple challenges, including some degree of miscommunication and polarization between different fields, where the imperatives of health and human rights are not always seen as complementary and rights imperatives are misconstrued to ignore all concerns regarding cost-effectiveness. Even for sympathetic actors and institutions, there is a need to gather sufficient evidence of the impact of human rights to be persuasive to policy makers, donors, and the public alike.

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