The Health Rights Initiative is based out of Miami Law’s Human Rights Program and is founded and directed by Faculty Director Tamar Ezer. Projects focus on realization of the right to the highest attainable standard of health, the intersection of health rights and drug policy, including addressing discrimination and violence against women who use drugs, and Indigenous health rights, including the right to a healthy environment and freedom from violence.
- Please find a factsheet on the international human right to the highest attainable standard of health in English and Spanish.
- The Health Rights Initiative addresses the intersection of health rights and drug policy.
In 2020, the Human Rights Clinic provided an analysis of drug policies in the United States in two submissions to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The first submission discusses drug policies resulting in arbitrary detention and discrimination on the basis of gender and race. Please find a web story on this at Via U.N. Advocacy, Human Rights Clinic Addresses Arbitrary Detention Resulting from Drug Policy. The second submission to the Working Group discusses the problems with drug courts, which put drug treatment in the hands of the criminal justice system, which lacks medical expertise, and function in a context of scarce treatment resources. Please find a blog on “Care Not Criminalization to Address Drug Dependence,” published with the Bringing Human Rights Home series.
The Human Rights Initiative further works to address discrimination and violence against women as a result of drug policy. The Human Rights Clinic has collaborated with partners, including the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Association, and LUNEST, to ensure the rights of women who use drugs and women living with HIV in Estonia and Russia. This has entailed preparing a submission to the U.N. Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Health and on Violence against Women and the Working Group on the Issue of Discrimination against Women in Law and in Practice. Our advocacy with the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights further resulted in strong Concluding Observations protective of human rights on both drug policy and HIV/AIDS (paragraphs 44-47). Please find a web story on this at Via U.N. Advocacy, Clinic Addresses Discriminatory Drug Laws Against Women).
Globally, the Human Rights Clinic developed an analysis of obstetric violence experienced by women who use drugs for the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and published the following reports with partners: Harm Reduction and Women: A Human Rights Approach, Drug Policy and the Fundamental Human Rights of Women Who Use Drugs, and Women Who Use Drugs: Key Issues, Violations, and Recommendations.
Furthermore, the Clinic made two submissions in response to the International Commission of Jurists’ call for civil society consultation to help develop “principles that address the detrimental impact on health, equality and human rights of criminalization with a focus on select conduct in the areas of sexuality, reproduction, drug use and HIV.” Please see Alternative Models to Punitive Drug Policy and The Impact of Criminalization on Women Who Use Drugs in Estonia.
- The Health Rights Initiative works to realize Indigenous health rights, including the right to a healthy environment and freedom from violence.
In 2021, the Human Rights Clinic produced a report on the impacts of COVID-19 on Indigenous Peoples and women, in particular, as well as a report on the "Rights of Nature and Indigenous Communities." Another project addresses the intersection of gender-based violence against Indigenous Peoples and environmental justice. Another project addresses the intersection of Indigenous rights with gender and environmental violence. A series of reports provide a human rights framework to address gender and environmental violence, a synopsis with key recommendations, and case studies focused on Pipelines and Man Camps on Indigenous Lands in the Northern United States and on Canada’s National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, submitted to the CEDAW Committee and UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls.
The Human Rights Clinic further advocates on behalf of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. In February 2019, the Clinic contributed to a written and oral submission before the Canadian National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, with a report focused on the right to truth. Read the web story and partners' press release, building on a previous thematic hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
- Additionally, Miami Law has a Health Rights Clinic, a medical-legal partnership in collaboration with the UM Miller School of Medicine, where students represent clients in different legal matters related to health with a focus on social security/public benefits and immigration. The Health Rights Clinic operates under the guidance of Director JoNel Newman and Associate Director Melissa Swain.
- Strategy Meeting on Realizing the Rights to Food, Health and Housing in the U.S.: On November 12-13, 2020, the Human Rights Clinic and Cardozo Law Institute in Holocaust and Human Rights hosted a National Strategy Meeting on Realizing the Rights to Food, Health and Housing in the U.S. that brought together advocates and scholars to share strategies and experiences for realizing the rights to housing, health, and food. The meeting provided participants with the opportunity to jointly strategize on cross-cutting issues. For the meeting, the HRC developed factsheets in English and Spanish on the international human rights to food, housing and health. For more information about this meeting, please see the meeting agenda and report, as well as a Human Rights at Home blog and web story.
- International Law and COVID-19 Symposium: On April 12 and 16, 2021, the University of Miami School of Law International and Graduate Law Programs and Human Rights Clinic, in collaboration with the Human Rights Society, Health Law Association, Environmental Law Program, and University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review, hosted a symposium on the impact of COVID-19 on international law. The International Law and COVID-19 Symposium delved into the intersections of COVID-19 with human rights and public health, including state obligations towards vulnerable populations, rights restrictions to protect public health, environmental aspects, reactions by international and regional human rights bodies, and public health responses. The symposium featured various international experts, including the president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, and members of the U.N. International Law Commission. Professor Claudio Grossman, dean emeritus and Raymond I. Geraldson Scholar for International and Humanitarian Law at the American University Washington College of Law; and member of the U.N. International Law Commission, provided introductory remarks.
Faculty and student scholarship addressing health rights includes:
Human Rights in Patient Care
- Gabriel Scheffler, Equality and Sufficiency in Health Care Reform, 81 Maryland Law Review. (forthcoming 2021).
- Gabriel Scheffler, How the COVID-19 Pandemic Has and Should Reshape the American Safety Net, 105 Minnesota Law Review Headnotes 154 (2020) (with Andrew Hammond and Ariel Jurow Kleiman).
- Gabriel Scheffler, The Dynamism of Health Law: Expanded Insurance Coverage as the Engine of Regulatory Reform, 10 U.C. Irvine Law Review 729 (2020).
- Nicollette Levi, A Human Rights Framework to Address Health Inequalities Undermining Health in the U.S., 75 University of Miami Law Review Caveat 180 (2020).
- Tamar Ezer, Judy Overall, Human Rights in Patient Care: A Special Collection, 41:32 Public Health Reviews (2020).
- Gabriel Scheffler, Unlocking Access to Health Care: A Federalist Approach to Reforming Occupational Licensing, 29 Health Matrix (2019).
- Tamar Ezer, Jonathan Cohen, Ryan Quinn, The Problem of Torture in Health Care in Torture in Healthcare Settings: Reflections on the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s 2013 Thematic Report 19 (2014).
- Tamar Ezer, Human Rights in Patient Care: A Themed Issue, 15(2) Health and Human Rights Journal 5 (2013).
- Jonathan Cohen, Tamar Ezer, Human Rights in Patient Care: A Theoretical and Practical Framework, 15(2) Health and Human Rights Journal 7 (2013).
- Tamar Ezer, Judy Overall, Advancing Human Rights in Patient Care through Higher Education in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, 15(2) Health and Human Rights 54 Journal (2013).
Blogs & Op-Eds:
- Tamar Ezer & Denise Tomasini-Joshi, First Responders with a Rights-Based Approach to Mental Health Crises, Health and Human Rights Journal Viewpoint (Oct. 10, 2021).
- Tamar Ezer & Denisse Córdova Montes, Realizing the Rights to Food, Health, and Housing, Human Rights at Home Blog (June 30, 2021).
- Ariel Jurow Kleiman, Gabriel Scheffler, Andrew Hammond, Americans Need a Stronger Safety Net, Not Just Stimulus Checks, The Regulatory Review (Jan. 11, 2021).
- Gabriel Scheffler & Allison Hoffman, Expanding Medicaid in Florida Will Save Money and Lives, Sun Sentinel (May 4, 2020).
- Gabriel Scheffler, Waiving Away Medicaid, The Regulatory Review (May 8, 2019).
- Tamar Ezer, Four Key Lessons from Teaching Human Rights for Health, Open Society Foundations Voices (Nov. 3, 2014).
- Tamar Ezer & Tirza Leibowitz, From the UN, A Powerful Tool to Stop Forced Sterilization, Open Society Foundations Voices (July 10, 2014).
- Tamar Ezer, Making Laws Work for Patients, Open Society Foundations Voices (May 16, 2013).
- Tamar Ezer, A Signature Is Not Enough, Open Society Foundations Voices (March 25, 2013).
- Lydia Guterman & Tamar Ezer, A Day to Support Victims of Torture in Health Care, Open Society Foundations Voices (June 26, 2012).
- Tamar Ezer, Against Her Will: Putting an End to Forced Sterilization, Open Society Foundations Voices (June 22, 2011).
Health and Access to Justice
- Tamar Ezer, Priti Patel, Strategic Litigation to Advance Public Health, 20(2) Health and Human Rights Journal 149 (2018).
- Tamar Ezer, Martin McKee, Alphia Abdikeeva, Legal Advocacy as a Tool to Advance Roma Health, 13 Health Economics, Policy and Law 92 (2018).
- Tamar Ezer, Medical-Legal Partnerships with Communities: Legal Empowerment to Transform Care, 17 Yale Journal of Health Policy, Law and Ethics 309 (2017).
- JoNel Newman, Identity and Narrative: Turning Oppression Into Client Empowerment In Social Security Disability Cases, 79 Albany Law Review 373 (2016).
- Sofia Gruskin, Emily Walker, Kelly Safreed-Harmon, Tamar Ezer, Jonathan Cohen, Anne Gathumbi, Patricia Kameri-Mbote, Integrating Human Rights in Program Evaluation: Lessons from Law and Health Programs in Kenya, 146 New Directions for Evaluation: Evaluation and Social Justice in Complex Sociopolitical Contexts 57 (2015).
- Alphia Abdikeeva, Tamar Ezer, Alina Covaci, Assessing Legal Advocacy to Advance Roma Health in Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia, 20 European Journal of Health Law 471 (2013).
- Sofia Gruskin, Kelly Safreed-Harmon, Tamar Ezer, et al., Access to Justice: Evaluating Law, Health, and Human Rights Programmes in Kenya, 16(2) Journal of the International AIDS Society (2013).
- JoNel Newman, Miami’s Medical-Legal Partnership: Preparing Lawyers and Physicians for Holistic Practice, 9 Indiana Health Law Review 473 (2012).
- Melissa Gibson Swain & JoNel Newman, Helping Haiti in the Wake of Disaster: Law Students as First Responders, 6 Intercultural Human Rights Law Review 133 (2011).
- Tamar Ezer et al., Promoting Public Health through Clinical Legal Education: Initiatives in South Africa, Thailand, and Ukraine, 17 Human Rights Brief 27 (2010).
- Tamar Ezer, Lessons from Africa: Combating the Twin Epidemics of Domestic Violence and HIV/AIDS, 13 HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review 57 (2008).
- Tamar Ezer, Swaziland: Widows Fighting for their Rights, 12 HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review 72 (2007).
- Tamar Ezer, The Healing Potential of Medical-Legal Partnerships, Bill of Health, Petrie Flom Center (July 21, 2018).
- Tamar Ezer & Priti Patel, Being Strategic about Strategic Litigation: Four Things We’ve Learned from a Public Health Context, Human Rights Funders Network (July 28, 2016).
- Tamar Ezer, Injustice is Bad for Your Health, Open Society Foundations Voices (July 8, 2015).
- Tamar Ezer, Legally Invisible, Fighting for Health Care, Open Society Foundations Voices (June 27, 2013).
Drug Policy and Human Rights
- Alison R. Ohringer, Tamar Ezer, David P. Serota, Prison-Based Harm Reduction Services are Needed to Address the Dual Substance Use Disorder and Infectious Disease Epidemics in US Prisons, 22 EClinical Medicine (May 2020).
- Mikhail Golichenko, Suzanne Stolz, Tamar Ezer, Addressing Human Rights Abuses against People Who Use Drugs: A Critical Role for Human Rights Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures, Journal of Human Rights Practice (2018).
Tamar Ezer & Gita Howard, Care Not Criminalization to Address Drug Dependence, Human Rights at Home Blog (Nov. 18, 2020).
Palliative Care and Human Rights
- Tamar Ezer, Diederik Lohman, Gabriela B. de Luca, Palliative Care and Human Rights: A Decade of Evolution in Standards, 55 Journal of Pain and Symptom Management S163 (2018).
- Tamar Ezer, Naomi Burke-Shyne, Kiera Hepford, Legal Support for Palliative Care Patients, 55 Journal of Pain and Symptom Management S157 (2018).
- Frank Brennan, Liz Gwyther, Diederik Lohman, Fatia Kiyange, Tamar Ezer, Faith Mwangi-Powell, Palliative Care as a Human Right in Oxford Textbook of Palliative Nursing (2015).
- Diederik Lohman, Tamar Ezer, Denial of Pain Treatment and the Prohibition against Torture and Ill Treatment in Torture in Healthcare Settings: Reflections on the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s 2013 Thematic Report 133 (2014).
- Tamar Ezer and Joan Marston, Comprehensive Care: Palliative Care and Legal Services in South Africa, 12 HIV/AIDS Policy & Law Review 66 (2007).
- Tamar Ezer & Kiera Hepford, Older People and the Right to Freedom from Suffering, Open Society Foundations Voices (Dec. 10, 2013).
- Tamar Ezer & Kiera Hepford, Hear the Silent Sufferers: Palliative Care and Pain Relief as Human Rights, Open Society Foundations Voices (Dec. 10, 2012).
- Tamar Ezer, The Start of a New Movement: Access to Justice for Palliative Care Patients, Open Society Foundations Voices (Sept. 14, 2012).
- Tamar Ezer, Uniting Lawyers with Hospices in Georgia, Open Society Foundations Voices (Mar. 28, 2011).
Brain Injury and Human Rights
- Tamar Ezer, Megan S. Wright, Joseph J. Fins, The Neglect of Persons with Severe Brain Injury in the United States: An International Human Rights Analysis, 22(1) Health and Human Rights Journal 265 (2020).
- Megan S. Wright, Nina Varsava, Joel Ramirez, Kyle Edwards, Nathan Guevremont, Tamar Ezer, Joseph J. Fins, Justice and Severe Brain Injury: Legal Remedies for a Marginalized Population, 45 Florida State University Law Review 313 (2018).