Book Review: The Reporting Procedure under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Practice and Procedures of the Human Rights Committee

AuthorMartin Scheinin
DOI10.1177/092405190001800113
Publication Date01 Mar 2000
SubjectBook Review
Documentation
the right to health. Her justification for this conclusion is unconvincing, namely, that they
are not contained in the treaty provisions stipulating a right to health in various
international instruments and that they are explicitly protected by provisions
of
the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Civil and political rights and
economic, social and cultural rights are interdependent and the division between them is
frequently arbitrary. The contention that certain rights contained specifically in the ICCPR
cannot be covered by a more comprehensive right in the ICESCR is not conceptually
convincing, despite the practical conclusion that they should be treated separately by the
respective monitoring bodies. The better conclusion would seem to be that certain aspects
of
the right to health are covered specifically in a variety ofintemational instruments (and
national legal provisions), but that the more general right to health in the ICESCR leaves
open the possibility for evolution in the scope and core content
of
the right and the
eventual inclusion
of
other specific aspects.
As other authors
of
shorter works on the right to health have pointed out, Toebes refers
to the thus-far limited contribution
of
the World Health Organization to conceptualising
the right to health. One
of
the more interesting developments in this field since the
publication
of
the Toebes book is the current effort
of
the WHO to mainstream human
rights in all its activities. Responding to a call from Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary
General, the WHO, as other UN specialised agencies and bodies, is integrating human
rights aspects in its work. The focus
of
the WHO is less on the scope
of
the 'right to
health' than on the synergy between health and human rights. The pioneering work
of
the
late Jonathan Mann
of
the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights
of
the Harvard School
of
Public Health in demonstrating the relationship
of
human rights
issues such as discrimination to the eradication
of
AIDS, and to other health issues, is now
being carried on at the WHO.
The Toebes study is innovative and ambitious. It accomplishes what excellent studies
should achieve: it suggests the need for further work and opens up a number
of
important
questions for examination by Toebes or other scholars in the future. It will be particularly
useful for the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in monitoring the
provisions
of
the Covenant on the right to health in the future. Collaboration between
human rights scholars and activists and health professionals, as well as the work
of
the
WHO, should lead to a greater understanding
of
the synergy between health and human
rights in the future and the conceptualisation
of
a right to health as a human right. In the
meantime, Toebes has made an important contribution to the debate.
Ineke
Boerefijn, The Reporting Procedure under the Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. Practice and Procedures
of
the Human Rights Committee, Vol. 2, Intersentla-
Hart,
Antwerpen/Groningen/Oxford,
359
pp.
+
appendices'
The doctoral dissertation by Ineke Boerefijn is an impressive product
of
careful and
systematic research. The book, published as the second volume in the School
of
Human
Rights Research Series serves as strong
prooffor
the high quality
of
human rights research
in the Netherlands. The dissertation can be warmly recommended to all persons who are
Martin Scheinin is Professor of Law and Director of the Institute for Human Rights at the Abo Akademi
University, Finland. In 1997-2000 he serves as a member of the Human Rights Committee. His earlier
involvement with the Committee includes academic research, submission of individual complaints,
consultation in drafting State reports and preparing NGO submissions.
139

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