The Sexual Rights Initiative, National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL), Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDNet), AWID, Her Rights Initiative (HRI) and IDSN have worked together to create a submission to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to inform the elaboration of its General Recommendation n°37 on racial discrimination and the right to health. The report recommends that a tripartite approach is necessary in order for states to meet their obligations under CERD Article 5.

“The main argument of this submission is concerning access to health and healthcare of all people. First, states must ensure that healthcare is publicly funded through progressive taxation; second, states must adopt a systems approach to fulfil the right to health; and, third, states must take an intersectional approach in all aspects of healthcare provision. The absence of any of these will compromise people’s rights to health, bodily autonomy and non-discriminatory services, especially among the marginalised.”

The report also details case studies on women living with HIV in South Africa, indigenous communities in Canada and caste-based oppression in India, as well as citing cases of Dalits in other caste-affected countries in South Asia.

“Caste-based discrimination and oppression continue to prevent millions of people in South Asia (and elsewhere) from realising their rights to health and healthcare. In addition to historical exclusion and de facto denial of access to various institutions and services due to economic barriers, Dalit and Adivasi (Indigenous peoples of India) communities are further dispossessed of their rights through the attitudes and treatment they receive in healthcare institutions. Dalit women face specific barriers in accessing sexual and reproductive healthcare”

Please download the full report here and see the recommendations from the report below.

We encourage the Committee to treat racial, caste and gender discrimination as fundamentally incompatible with states’ obligations under the right to health, and to:

  1. Engage with all the elements outlined under Article 5 (e)(iv), including the right to public health:
    1. Call on states to fund health publicly through progressive taxation, free from control from other governments, multilateral agreements and transnational corporations;
    2. Treat privatisation of health care and health determinants as incompatible with human rights and racial equality
  2. Adopt a systems approach to the right to health, which encompasses all the rights and entitlements necessary to the fulfilment of the right to health, including its determinants;
  3. Adopt an expansive and intersectional approach to the right to health and its determinants:
    1. Explicitly include gender, class, and other forms of oppression and discrimination in its analysis of racial discrimination;
    2. Engage with holistic and expansive conceptions of health by Indigenous and racially marginalised people;
    3. Ensure meaningful access, participation and leadership of racialised people, groups and organisations in the Committee’s work and analysis;
    4. Address colonialism and neo-colonialism as a determinant of health, with the corresponding state obligations to address it, including through full reparations;