This year’s theme

The 2019 theme for The Swedish Forum for Human Rights is:

The right to health

Health, our own and our relatives’, is something that we as human beings worry and care about daily. Regardless of age, gender, socioeconomic or ethnical background, we perceive a good health as a fundamental premise for life. Illness on the other hand, both physical and mental, might prevent us from attend school or work but also to handle our obligations towards others or to take part of activities in society.

The right to health is a fundamental part of our human rights and our understanding of what it means to enjoy a life with dignity. The right to the highest attainable physical and mental health is not new. It was first established in the World Health Organization Constitution (1946), where it is described as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Accordingly, health as a human right cannot be achieved only by making sure that the physical health is good – it also requires that mental and social factors of health will be achieved.

The right to health presumes equal availability and access to both health care and medicine and requires respect for the individual’s bodily and spiritual integrity and control over their own body. It furthermore requires particular consideration to the most vulnerable. The right to health is thus both central to and dependent of the realization of other human rights. Without access to food, water and sanitation, housing, work, education and participation in society, good health and well-being is impossible to achieve. The human rights are thus inseparable and cannot exist without one another.

When people and groups are not able to utilize, or are prevented from utilizing, the right to health a democratic issue arises, which entails consequences such as segregation, alienation and unequal societies. The programme for the Swedish Forum for Human Rights 2019 will therefore dive into the structures and underlying factors effecting people’s health. For example, how do climate changes, resettlements, wars and resource allocations and rules about residence permit affect people’s health? The programme also opens up for discussions about ways in which power structures such as sex, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, age, functionality, social and economic class and gender identity affect who is given the opportunity to enjoy the highest attainable health and well-being.

From a national perspective, we ask ourselves the question of how obligation carriers such as state, county and municipality can work so that everyone achieves the right to health. Challenges and problems will be lifted and discussed, but the programme will also focus on good examples on successful human rights work on local, regional and state level. Furthermore, the programme will include a focus on solutions; what preventive efforts are needed and how can we, together, ensure that the right to health and the right to live a life with dignity include all people?