Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Using human rights for sexual and reproductive health: improving legal and regulatory frameworks

Jane Cottingham, Eszter Kismodi, Adriane Martin Hilber, Ornella Lincetto, Marcus Stahlhofer & Sofia Gruskin

This paper describes the development of a tool that uses human rights concepts and methods to improve relevant laws, regulations and policies related to sexual and reproductive health. This tool aims to improve awareness and understanding of States’ human rights obligations. It includes a method for systematically examining the status of vulnerable groups, involving non-health sectors, fostering a genuine process of civil society participation and developing recommendations to address regulatory and policy barriers to sexual and reproductive health with a clear assignment of responsibility. Strong leadership from the ministry of health, with support from the World Health Organization or other international partners, and the serious engagement of all involved in this process can strengthen the links between human rights and sexual and reproductive health, and contribute to national achievement of the highest attainable standard of health.