|Compendium on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights. Young people in action (UNAIDS, 2001, 69 p.)|
© UNESCO/Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) 2001.
Human rights terms and institutions
Commission on Human Rights: Body formed by the Economic and Social Council of the UN to deal with questions of Human Rights. (Also see UN Human Rights Bodies)
Committee on Human Rights: Created under article 28 of Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to promote and encourage the development of human rights and fundamental freedom. (Also see UN Human Rights Bodies)
Council of Europe: Regional organisation comprised of 34 European countries which subscribe to the rule of law and human rights, submitting to the binding jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). (Also see European Convention on Human Rights)
Criminal Law: A phrase that often includes the entirety of what we know as the administration of criminal justice, can encompass several legal fields: substantive criminal law, criminal procedure, law enforcement, and penology.
European Convention on Human Rights: The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, normally referred to more simply as the European Convention on Human Rights was drafted by the Council of Europe and adopted in 1950. Acceptance of the convention, of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in interpreting it, and of the right of individuals to petition the European Court of Human Rights for protection are now obligations of membership in the Council. Almost all Member States have incorporated the convention into their domestic law, so their own courts can apply it where an individual claims a breach of one of the rights it contains. A citizen can petition the European Court of Human Rights itself only after all remedies available in his/her home country have failed to satisfy him/her. In a state where the convention has not been incorporated he/she may not be able to get final judgement of the case against his/her government until years after the act.
Human Rights: Human rights are the rights and freedoms of all human beings. They are fundamental and universal. Human rights consist of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights.
Inter-American Court of Human Rights: It was established in accordance with the American Convention on Human Rights. It is an autonomous judicial institution whose purpose is the application and interpretation of the convention. Only the States parties and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights have the right to submit a case to the court.
International law: The system of law regulating the interrelationship of sovereign states and their rights and duties vis-is one another. International law also covers private international law, or the conflict of laws. In this broader sense, international law is concerned with the rights of persons within the territory and dominion of one nation, by reason of acts private or public, done within the dominion of another nation.
NGO: Non-governmental organisation.
Repeal of Law: A legislative act abrogating an earlier act.
Right: An interest or expectation guaranteed by law.
State Party: is a State which has signed and ratified a human rights treaty. States parties are committed to incorporate the rights in the treaty into their own national and municipal law. They are also obliged to comply with all provisions of the human rights treaty.
Treaty, convention, pact, act, declaration, protocol: Contracts between states are called by these various names, none of which has a single fixed meaning. A treaty is the most formal type of agreement as it is not just a declaration of intent, it creates obligations on Member States and it is governed by international law.
Treaty law: An international term for law on international agreements between states, between states and international organisations or between two or more international organisations. The two prime United Nations (UN) Human Rights Treaties are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICPR) and Covenant on Economic and Social Rights (ESCR). Other universal treaties (including charters, conventions, covenants and statutes), regional treaties and protocols to treaties comprise the principal body of International Human Rights treaty law. The 1969 Vienna Convention on the law of treaties is the central source of international law on treaties.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights: In 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and nations". Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not legally binding, over the years its main principles have acquired the status of standards which should be respected by all States.
UN: United Nations. The United Nations is an international organisation, central to global efforts to solve problems which challenge humanity. More than 30 affiliated organisations, co-operating together constitute the UN system. UN and its family of organisations work to promote respect for human rights, protect the environment, fight disease, foster development and reduce poverty. UN agencies define the standards for safe and efficient transport by air and sea, help improve telecommunications and enhance consumer protection, work to ensure respect for intellectual property rights and co-ordinate allocation of radio frequencies. The United Nations leads the international campaigns against drug trafficking and terrorism. Throughout the world, the UN and its agencies assist refugees and set up programmes to clear landmines, help improve the quality of drinking water and expand food production, make loans to developing countries and help stabilise financial markets.
UN Human Rights Bodies: The United Nations human rights bodies are of two types; those which derive their existence from relevant provisions of the UN Charter and those which derive their existence from UN Human Rights treaties.
THE CHARTER BASED BODIES ARE: the Commission on Human Rights and its Sub-commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. They are main UN bodies with a general and broad mandate to cover all areas of human rights. There is also the Commission on the Status of Women which focuses on issues related to the human rights of women.
KEY TREATY BASED BODIES DIRECTLY RELEVANT TO HIV/AIDS ARE: the Human Rights Committee established by the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, established by the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, established by the provisions of the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; and the Committee on the Rights of Child, established by the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: This covenant elaborates the political and civil rights identified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which include mainly: the rights to life, privacy, fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom from torture and equality before the law. (Also see UN Human Rights Bodies)
UN International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: The rights recognised by the covenant include mainly: the rights to work, form and join trade unions, social security, protection of the family, the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, education and participation in cultural life.(Also see UN Human Rights Bodies)
AIDS: "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome", a serious disease caused by the virus, HIV, which destroys the immune defences of the body, which is then subject to serious "opportunistic" infections and certain cancers.
Anti-retroviral drugs: substances that reduce the viral load and strengthen the immune system; all are proprietary and therefore expensive, and must be used in combination in order to be effective.
Combination Therapy: use of more than one drug to treat a disease
Compulsory licensing: authorisation to a government or company to make and sell a drug without the permission of the patent holder, allowed only in public health emergencies.
Generic drugs: drugs without a brand name, which can be manufactured without a licence, usually after the patent held by the original owner has expired.
HIV: Human immuno-deficiency virus, which causes AIDS. There are two main types of the virus: HIV-1, which is responsible for the world wide pandemic of AIDS, and HIV-2, which can also cause AIDS and occurs mainly in West Africa.
Kaposis Sarcoma: A form of cancer involving multiple tumours of the lymph nodes or skin, occurring especially in people with depressed immune systems. e.g.; as a result of AIDS.
Lymphoma: Any malignant tumour of the lymph (colourless fluid containing white blood cells, drained from the tissues and conveyed through the body in the lymphatic system) nodes.
Opportunistic infection: infection induced by a micro-organism that is usually well tolerated by the body and only becomes pathogenic when the bodys defences are depressed. The most serious manifestations of AIDS are caused by opportunistic infections.
Palliative care: relief of suffering
Parallel importing: when a country without the ability to manufacture drugs buys it from another country where it may be cheaper than the price demanded by the patent holder.
Patent: legal ownership of an invention or discovery, usually granted for 20 years.
Proprietary drugs: "owned" by a pharmaceutical company; exclusively made and sold under a brand name by the patent holder or a licensee.
Resistance: when a virus develops the ability to "resist" a drug; which normally happens when treatment is interrupted or doses frequently missed, or taken in unsuitable combinations; resistance can spread together with the virus.
Seropositive or HIV-positive (HIV+): a person with a positive screening test for antibodies to HIV. This person has been in contact with HIV and should be considered to be potentially contagious by his/her blood and by sexual relations. When the test does not detect antibodies, the person is said to be "seronegative" or "HIV-negative".
STD: Sexually Transmitted Diseases, i.e. diseases that can be contracted by means of sexual relations. AIDS is essentially a sexually transmitted disease.
Viral load: the amount of virus in the blood
Virus: infectious agents responsible for numerous diseases in all living beings. They are extremely small particles (which can only be seen under the electron microscope) and, unlike bacteria, can only survive and multiply within a living cell at the expense of this cell. (ex: HIV: human immuno-deficiency virus, which causes AIDS)
See also UNAIDS Glossary page at: www.unaids.org/publications/glossary.asp for "Glossary of AIDS-related terminology".