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Access to Medication as a Human Right

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This article first provides a background note on international human rights law in general and health as a human right in particular, as well as on the interpretation of human rights conventions. Access to medication is 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 at best, an objection that will be treated under the heading of “justiciability”. Finally the article discusses the right to access to medication in detail, proceeding in the order of the sources recognized by international law as stated in Article 38 of the Statute of the ICJ, international conventions, customary international law and general principles of law. The scope of the obligations imposed by each of the legal sources is dealt with separately. Equally relevant is the question whether access to medication is guaranteed under general international law.


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