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close this bookHIV/AIDS and Human Rights International Guidelines Joint publication UNAIDS and United Nations (UNAIDS, 1998, 62 p.)
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View the documentA3. Human rights standards and the nature of State obligations
View the documentB3. Restrictions and limitations
View the documentC3. The application of specific human rights in the context of the HIV/AIDS epidemic

A3. Human rights standards and the nature of State obligations

78. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted at the World Conference on Human Rights in June 1993,17 affirmed that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. While the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, States have the duty, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect universal human rights standards and fundamental freedoms.

17 A/CONF.157/24 (Part I), chap. III.

79. A human rights approach to HIV/AIDS is, therefore, based on these State obligations with regard to human rights protection. HIV/AIDS demonstrates the indivisibility of human rights since the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as civil and political rights, is essential to an effective response. Furthermore, a rights-based approach to HIV/AIDS is grounded in concepts of human dignity and equality which can be found in all cultures and traditions.

80. The key human rights principles which are essential to effective State responses to HIV/AIDS are to be found in existing international instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Regional instruments, namely the American Convention on Human Rights, the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights also enshrine State obligations applicable to HIV/AIDS. In addition, a number of conventions and recommendations of the International Labour Organization are particularly relevant to the problem of HIV/AIDS, such as ILO instruments concerning discrimination in employment and occupation, termination of employment, protection of workers' privacy, and safety and health at work. Among the human rights principles relevant to HIV/AIDS are, inter alia:

The right to non-discrimination, equal protection and equality before the law;
The right to life;
The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
The right to liberty and security of person;
The right to freedom of movement;
The right to seek and enjoy asylum;
The right to privacy;
The right to freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freely receive and impart information;
The right to freedom of association;
The right to work;
The right to marry and to found a family;
The right to equal access to education;
The right to an adequate standard of living;
The right to social security, assistance and welfare;
The right to share in scientific advancement and its benefits;
The right to participate in public and cultural life;
The right to be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

81. Particular attention should be paid to human rights of children and women.