Rapid Fire Session 2014 World Cancer Congress

A human rights-based approach to cancer prevention and treatment (#414)

Alexandra Jones 1
  1. McCabe Centre for Law & Cancer, Cancer Council Victoria, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

Background and Context:

A human rights-based approach has significant potential to assist in formulating a just and effective response to the growing and unequal burden of cancer. Standards and principles of international human rights law and efforts to improve cancer prevention and treatment share the common goal of advancing the right to the highest attainable standard of health.


This work seeks to explore the utility of a rights-based approach in advancing and defending regulatory actions to reduce exposure to cancer risk factors (e.g. tobacco and alcohol use, and unhealthy diets), and in promoting access to and availability of cancer treatment.


Analysis of relevant human rights instruments, and examples of how these have been interpreted in practice at an international and domestic level will be used to demonstrate the potential value of a rights-based approach to the cancer context.

Programme/Policy Process:

The above analysis will inform discussion of:
• The tension between health and other rights (e.g. freedom of speech and property rights) that may arise when governments regulate cancer risk factors
• The role of international human rights law in advocating for stronger regulation of cancer risk factors including tobacco, alcohol and unhealthy diets
• The role of the right to health and a rights-based approach more broadly in promoting access to cancer treatment at both individual and population levels

Outcomes/What was learned:

A human rights-based approach can provide a valuable opportunity and framework for advancing interventions in the cancer and NCD epidemic broadly, allowing policy makers and advocates to take collective action using the norms and standards documented in international legal instruments to implement policies and practices that promote full realisation of the highest attainable standard of health.