Health & Human Rights Research

Updated Jan. 22, 2015.
Prepared by Mary Whisner

Health and human rights are linked in many ways. Violations of human rights can have serious health consequences; unfairly administered health policies or programs can violate human rights; protecting human rights can reduce individuals' vulnerability to ill health and its effects. World Health Organization, 25 Questions & Answers on Health & Human Rights at 8 (2002). This document is an excellent introduction to the topic. See also UN High Commissioner for Human Rights & World Health Organization, The Right to Health (Fact Sheet No. 31, 2008), which describes the right to health and discusses the UN's framework for monitoring and enforcement.

Legal Instruments

Researchers note: Annex I of 25 Questions & Answers lists relevant legal instruments such as treaties and UN resolutions (at 29-31). See also The Right to Health at 41-44. Minnesota Human Rights Library International Human Rights Instruments has the text of these (and other) instruments.

Human Rights Research Guides

American Society of International Law, Electronic Information System for International Law, International Human Rights. Includes page on Health & Human Rights.

Gallagher Law Library, Human Rights Research

Georgetown Law Library, Human Rights Law Research Guide.

Columbia Law School, Arthur W. Diamond Law Library, Human Rights Research Guide

United Nations Research Guides: Human Rights

UW Libraries, Human Rights


Health & Human Rights Guides

Harvard University, FXB Center for Health & Human Rights, Health and Human Rights Resource Guide (5th ed. 2013). You can download the entire guide (705 p. PDF) or select a chapter (e.g., "HIV, AIDS, and Human Rights").

University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, Study Guide: The Right to Means for Adequate Health (2003). Cites and quotes international conventions and other instruments that protect (or arguably protect) health as a human right. Includes regional sources such as the African Union.

Bogumil Terminski, Selected Bibliography on Human Right to Health (Jan. 2013). Lists books, chapters in edited books, and articles from scientific journals, 1978-2013. No annotations.


Health & Human Rights Organizations: International Governmental Organizations (IGOs)

United Nations. See United Nations Research.

World Health OrganizationHealth and Human Rights. See also WHO's Health Topics: Human Rights

UNICEF (children's issues)

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

African Union

Council of Europe, Health Policy

European Union pages on Health and on Human Rights

Organization of American StatesHuman Rights


Health & Human Rights Organizations: Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)

Amnesty International

Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders)(MSF)

Human Rights Watch

International Committee of the Red Cross (humanitarian assistance for victims of war and armed violence)

International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations

International Rescue Committee

International Society for Health and Human Rights

  • Health and Human Rights Info. Information on mental health and human rights; pages on gender based violence; child soldiers; post traumatic stress disorder disaster; asylum seekers in Europe; post conflict communities and transitional justice; torture; ethics; helping the helpers

Partners in Health

Physicians for Human Rights ("Using science and medicine to stop human rights violations")


Links by Region or Country

See Stanford University's list of links, Africa South of the Sahara, Topic: Human Rights

Human Resources for Health Global Resource Center offers Links by Geographic Focus (e.g., South Asia or, within South Asia, Bangladesh)


Human Rights Search Engine

HuriSearch search box

HuriSearch is a specialized search engine that covers over 5,000 human rights websites, including international governmental organizations (e.g., UNICEF), nongovernmental organizations (e.g., Amnesty International), academic centers (e.g., Duke Human Rights Center), and National Human Rights Institutions (e.g., Irish Human Rights Commission).

Advanced search lets you restrict by country, issuing organization, and type of document (e.g., HTML or PDF).

You can also run a search and then filter. For instance, when I searched for "reproductive health" and Indonesia, I found 96 documents—91 from NGOs, 5 from IGOs; 69 in HTML, 23 in PDF, and 4 in Microsoft Word. The source organization with the most documents was Indonesia's NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (HRWG) (70).


Finding Books

UW WorldCat. Includes University Libraries, hundreds of other libraries—including Gallagher—and records from article databases.

Search UW Law Library (beta) and UW Libraries Search beta—same catalog records, but different interface to get there. If you want to search for material in the Law Library, this catalog works better. If you want to search throughout the UW system, you can use either UW WorldCat or the Beta catalog.

Finding Articles

Article Indexes & Databases

Great starting place: UW Libraries Research Guides. Depending on what you're looking for, you might use databases listed under Law, International Studies, Public Health, or News -- or maybe a combination of these.

Electronic Journals

If you find a citation to an article -- either in an index or in something else you're reading -- check for the journal in the list of electronic journals from UW Libraries.

LexisNexis Academic

Full-text databases of law reviews, newspapers, magazines. Also has excellent coverage of U.S. primary law (cases, statutes, regulations). Tips:

  • When you retrieve too much, try searching for your terms in the title of an article.
  • Use connectors to make your search more precise. Example:
    • broad: health care and kenya
    • focused: access w/10 health care or doctor or clinic or hospital w/50 kenya*
  • To browse quickly through your results, use KWIC (Key Word In Context) display.



SSRN is a free database of published and unpublished papers. You can search abstracts; usually the papers are available for download. This is not UW-restricted. Sample search:

Sample abstract:


PAIS International

Public affairs and political science articles, books, and government reports from around the world. Sample search:


PubMed is the standard database for scholarly articles in medicine. Sample search:

Google Scholar

Google Scholar doesn't give you the full text of all the articles it retrieves because many are in proprietary databases. You can combine the searching of Google Scholar with many of the university's licensed databases:

1. Click on Settings

2. Click on Library links

3. Search for University of Washington

4. Select and Save.


Connect with us:

© Copyright 2016, All Rights Reserved University of Washington School of Law

4293 Memorial Way Northeast, Seattle, WA 98195