[A2k] Obama administration blocking consensus at Human Rights Council on access to medicines resolution

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jun 12 08:23:13 PDT 2013


Obama administration blocking consensus at Human Rights Council on access to medicines resolution

Submitted by thiru on 12. June 2013 - 16:08

In their introduction to Realizing the Right to Health, Andrew Clapham and Mary Robinson provide the following anecdote.

"The run up to the 2008 election in the United States focused at one point on the nature of health care in America. During the second presidential debate, the candidates were asked the following question: “Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?” Senator Obama (as he then was) replied as follows:

“Well, I think it should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can’t pay their medical bills – for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they’re saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don’t have to pay her treatment, there’s something fundamentally wrong about that.""

Five years after Obama passionately talked about health as a "right for every American", KEI has been informed that the United States is seeking to call for a vote on resolution tabled by Brazil and co-sponsored by the African Group, India, Indonesia, Thailand on "Access to medicines in the context of the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health". The resolution is expected to be adopted by the Human Rights Council on Thursday, 13 June 2013. The US's decision to put the resolution to a vote, thus guaranteeing it will not receive consensus support, has been perceived in the human rights committee as a slap in the face of the countries backing the proposal.

According to informed sources, "the draft resolution on access to medicines will be adopted tomorrow morning at the current session of the Human Rights Council... The EU is willing to join consensus over the text. But the US has indicated that it will call for a vote...The US joined consensus on the same topic in 2011 and 2009 at the Human Rights Council. The language is basically the same. It is difficult to understand their position".

This draft resolution comes on the heels of the publication of the report by the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (Anand Grover) on access to medicines (1 May 2013).

Five years after Obama spoke movingly about the right to health in the context of "people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills" and providing the poignant example of his mother arguing with insurance companies at the end of her life, it is puzzling that his administration would seek to block the consensus passage of this resolution when they supported this in 2009 and 2011.

Please see below for the entire text of the resolution:

http://keionline.org/node/1744

-- 

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)

thiru at keionline.org



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