Washington College of Law and the Pan American Health Organization to
Collaborate on Human Rights and Health

WASHINGTON, DC, July 14, 2009 – American University Washington College of Law (WCL) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have signed a memorandum of agreement under which the two organizations will work together to promote health as a human right in PAHO Member States.

Under the agreement, WCL will use its expertise in international human rights law, international environmental law, international protection of intellectual property, and gender and the law to strengthen efforts by PAHO and its Member States to advance health and reduce health inequities, particularly for the most vulnerable groups.

“Washington College of Law is committed to fulfilling this relationship to better serve our mission to maximize the impact of human rights and the right to health in the Region," said Dean Claudio Grossman who signed the agreement with PAHO Assistant Director Dr. Socorro Gross.

The new agreement, said Gross, "will help [PAHO] do a better job, have more successful technical cooperation in our countries, and to move forward on the right to health in our Region in our national health systems."

Specific activities will include the development of joint advocacy training programs in PAHO Member States on the use of international law instruments to promote and protect the health and well-being of vulnerable groups-such as people with disabilities, people with HIV/AIDS, indigenous peoples, older adults, children, youths, and women-and to increase access for these groups to medical products and technologies. PAHO and WCL will also develop new or improve existing training programs on international public health legislation and human rights topics for personnel at PAHO headquarters and in its country offices in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In addition, WCL will provide technical support to PAHO for the development and dissemination of model public health legislation and related products consistent with international standards. Upon request by PAHO Member States, WCL will review and help formulate national regulations, policies, and plans that advance health and reduce inequities.

WCL will also advise PAHO on its technical collaboration with the United Nations and the Organization of American States and their treaty bodies, and will jointly sponsor fellowships, internships, human rights clinics, academies, and conferences as well as joint research projects and publications in the areas of health and human rights.

Javier Vásquez, PAHO's top expert on human rights law and the lead technical officer for the initiative, said, "This type of collaboration, among many other things, could eliminate the stigma and discrimination associated with the most vulnerable and the protection of those who are experiencing health problems, illnesses, epidemics and disability, especially with regard to their human right to access health services, facilities, goods, technologies and essential medicines on an equal footing with regard to other human beings."

The PAHO-WCL agreement proposes possible collaboration with other partners to maximize financial support for and coordination of the organizations' joint activities.

About American University Washington College of Law
Washington College of Law (WCL), founded in 1896, has been part of American University since 1949. WCL is a member of the Association of American Law Schools and is approved by the American Bar Association.

About PAHO
PAHO, founded in 1902, works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).


CONTACT: Javier Vásquez , Human Rights Law Advisor, Pan American Health Organization,  (202) 974-3762, or Franki Fitterer, Director, Public Relations, Washington College of Law (202) 274-4279.