New synergies

At the new forums where previously unconnected actors meet over economic and social rights, new synergies are being discovered. One of the biggest growth areas of the economic and social rights movement has been the right to health. Its cause célèbre has been the success of the South African Treatment Action Campaign, first in persuading the South African Supreme Court that the right to health required national roll-out of a particular anti-retroviral (ARV) drug, and then, in coalition with international NGOs, in persuading the WTO that there needed to be an exemption to the TRIPS agreement that would allow the manufacture and distribution of cheap versions of ARV drugs to combat HIV/AIDS in developing countries. But health rights activists have also achieved many other successes, primarily but not exclusively related to HIV/AIDS treatment, in Thailand, Brazil and other countries (Seckinelgin 2002: 123–5). Patients (especially People Living With HIV/AIDS), health professionals, human rights lawyers, development organisations and anti-privatisation activists are all part of this growing movement. Where only ten years ago the right to health was generally met with the sceptical comment that one cannot claim a right to be healthy, now a right to ‘the highest attainable standard of health’ is widely accepted in both medical and development circles.