Violations of human rights: health practitioners as witnesses

James Orbinski, Christopher Beyrer, Sonal Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

For humanitarian health-care practitioners bearing witness to violations of human dignity has become synonymous with denunciations, human rights advocacy, or lobbying for political change. A strict reliance on legal interpretations of humanitarianism and human rights is inadequate for fully understanding the problems inherent in political change. With examples from the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the USA, the Rwandan genocide, and physician-led political activism in Nepal, we describe three cases in which health practitioners bearing witness to humanitarian and human-rights issues have had imperfect outcomes. However these acts of bearing witness have been central to the promotion of humanitarianism and human rights, to the pursuit of justice that they have inevitably and implicitly endorsed, and thus to the politics that have or might yet address these issues. Despite the imperfections, bearing witness, having first-hand knowledge of humanitarian and human-rights principles and their limitations, and systematically collecting evidence of abuse, can be instrumental in tackling the forces that constrain the realisation of human health and dignity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-704
Number of pages7
JournalThe Lancet
Volume370
Issue number9588
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 25 2007

Fingerprint

Personhood
Health
Altruism
Genocide
Lobbying
Nepal
Social Justice
Politics
Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
HIV
Delivery of Health Care
Physicians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Violations of human rights : health practitioners as witnesses. / Orbinski, James; Beyrer, Christopher; Singh, Sonal.

In: The Lancet, Vol. 370, No. 9588, 25.08.2007, p. 698-704.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Orbinski, James ; Beyrer, Christopher ; Singh, Sonal. / Violations of human rights : health practitioners as witnesses. In: The Lancet. 2007 ; Vol. 370, No. 9588. pp. 698-704.
@article{69c3281bf84748c3a9d9bd75ab40a739,
title = "Violations of human rights: health practitioners as witnesses",
abstract = "For humanitarian health-care practitioners bearing witness to violations of human dignity has become synonymous with denunciations, human rights advocacy, or lobbying for political change. A strict reliance on legal interpretations of humanitarianism and human rights is inadequate for fully understanding the problems inherent in political change. With examples from the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the USA, the Rwandan genocide, and physician-led political activism in Nepal, we describe three cases in which health practitioners bearing witness to humanitarian and human-rights issues have had imperfect outcomes. However these acts of bearing witness have been central to the promotion of humanitarianism and human rights, to the pursuit of justice that they have inevitably and implicitly endorsed, and thus to the politics that have or might yet address these issues. Despite the imperfections, bearing witness, having first-hand knowledge of humanitarian and human-rights principles and their limitations, and systematically collecting evidence of abuse, can be instrumental in tackling the forces that constrain the realisation of human health and dignity.",
author = "James Orbinski and Christopher Beyrer and Sonal Singh",
year = "2007",
month = "8",
day = "25",
doi = "10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61346-4",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "370",
pages = "698--704",
journal = "The Lancet",
issn = "0140-6736",
publisher = "Elsevier Limited",
number = "9588",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Violations of human rights

T2 - health practitioners as witnesses

AU - Orbinski, James

AU - Beyrer, Christopher

AU - Singh, Sonal

PY - 2007/8/25

Y1 - 2007/8/25

N2 - For humanitarian health-care practitioners bearing witness to violations of human dignity has become synonymous with denunciations, human rights advocacy, or lobbying for political change. A strict reliance on legal interpretations of humanitarianism and human rights is inadequate for fully understanding the problems inherent in political change. With examples from the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the USA, the Rwandan genocide, and physician-led political activism in Nepal, we describe three cases in which health practitioners bearing witness to humanitarian and human-rights issues have had imperfect outcomes. However these acts of bearing witness have been central to the promotion of humanitarianism and human rights, to the pursuit of justice that they have inevitably and implicitly endorsed, and thus to the politics that have or might yet address these issues. Despite the imperfections, bearing witness, having first-hand knowledge of humanitarian and human-rights principles and their limitations, and systematically collecting evidence of abuse, can be instrumental in tackling the forces that constrain the realisation of human health and dignity.

AB - For humanitarian health-care practitioners bearing witness to violations of human dignity has become synonymous with denunciations, human rights advocacy, or lobbying for political change. A strict reliance on legal interpretations of humanitarianism and human rights is inadequate for fully understanding the problems inherent in political change. With examples from the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the USA, the Rwandan genocide, and physician-led political activism in Nepal, we describe three cases in which health practitioners bearing witness to humanitarian and human-rights issues have had imperfect outcomes. However these acts of bearing witness have been central to the promotion of humanitarianism and human rights, to the pursuit of justice that they have inevitably and implicitly endorsed, and thus to the politics that have or might yet address these issues. Despite the imperfections, bearing witness, having first-hand knowledge of humanitarian and human-rights principles and their limitations, and systematically collecting evidence of abuse, can be instrumental in tackling the forces that constrain the realisation of human health and dignity.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=34548034883&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=34548034883&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61346-4

DO - 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61346-4

M3 - Article

C2 - 17720021

AN - SCOPUS:34548034883

VL - 370

SP - 698

EP - 704

JO - The Lancet

JF - The Lancet

SN - 0140-6736

IS - 9588

ER -