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Relevant international instruments

Both the United Nations and the Inter-American systems for the protection of human rights have a significant body of legal instruments that can be used to protect the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health (“right to health”) and other related human rights and fundamental freedoms of vulnerable groups.  Human rights and fundamental freedoms have emerged from universal and regional conventions, treaties, covenants and protocols which are considered legally binding for States that have ratified them. Universal and regional human rights “standards” such as declarations, principles and technical guidelines —although not legally binding-, are considered to be an authoritative interpretation of international convention (and treaty) requirements and represent a consensus of international opinion.  In most cases these “standards” or “soft law”, are issued by the United Nations General Assembly or Council of Human Rights, by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States (OAS) or specialized United Nations and Inter-American System agencies.  As such, “standards” or “guidelines” can be used to guide the formulation and/or review of national policies, plans or programs; the enactment of pertinent legislation and to steer the restructure of health services to benefit vulnerable groups.  Some relevant instruments in the context of the right to health and other related human rights and fundamental freedoms can be found in the following section:


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