Email from Professor Paul Hunt, University
of Essex, dated 20 May 2009
Regarding the Joint Committee's inquiry into business
and human rights:
Between 2002-08, I was the UN Special Rapporteur
on the right to the highest attainable standard of health. In
that capacity, I submitted some 30 right-to-health reports to
the UN General Assembly and UN Human Rights Council.
One of the recurrent themes in my work was access
to medicines and the right to health responsibilities of States
and pharmaceutical companies.
After consulting on the issue for some years,
in 2008 I submitted to the General Assembly Human Rights Guidelines
for Pharmaceutical Companies in relation to Access to Medicines.
Please see chapter four and the annex in the attached report to
the UN General Assembly.
Last year, as UN Special Rapporteur, I undertook
a formal UN mission to GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), considering its
access to medicines policies through the right-to-health lens.
This was the first time that a UN human rights "special procedure"
undertook a formal human rights mission to a specific business
The reason why I write now is that this week
my report on GSK was published by the UN. It will be presented
to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva next month.
Before examining some of the activities of GSK,
the report sets out, in chapter 2, the right to health responsibilities
of pharmaceutical companies in relation to access to medicines.
This chapter is specific and contextual. In effect, it applies
the Human Rights Guidelines to GSK. The chapter explicitly
builds on the generic framework recently set out by John Ruggie.
I hope the Committee will find both the Guidelines
and the GSK report useful. They endeavour to apply human rights,
specifically the right to health, to the specific context of one
very important and powerful business sector.
580 Available at http://www.essex.ac.uk/human_rights_centre/research/rth/docs/Final_pharma_for_website.pdf Back