Human rights champion receives Honorary Degree

  • Date

    Tue 17 Jul 18

Dr Flavia Bustreo

Human rights champion Dr Flavia Bustreo, who is dedicated to improving the health and life chances of women and children, today received an Honorary Degree from the University of Essex.

Dr Bustreo, who is the former Assistant Director General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organisation (WHO), is committed to improving everyone’s right to the highest attainable standard of health.

Her work, focusing on developing policies around child and maternal health, has seen her lead the UN Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and contribute to the UN Taskforce on Millennium Development Goals to reduce maternal and child mortality. She was also a key force in the debate leading to the Paris Agreement for Climate Change which includes the right to health.

Paying tribute to Dr Bustreo at today’s graduation ceremony, Professor Paul Hunt, from the University’s School of Law and Human Rights Centre, said: “If ever a person embodied our core values of internationalism and a desire to change the world for the better, it is Dr Flavia Bustreo.”

Professor Hunt said Dr Bustreo’s advancement of the right to health resonated with the priorities of the University’s Human Rights Centre.

“Dr Bustreo not only lives the values that we hold dear, she excels in them, actively changing our world for the betterment of lives across the globe,” he added.

After receiving her Honorary Degree she said: “It’s a profound honour and makes me really humble, especially because many prominent females I have had the fortune to work with such as Graça Machel and Michelle Bachelet have been bestowed with the same honour.”

Praising the University’s Human Rights Centre, Dr Bustreo said it has been extremely influential and “has a unique presence in the field of human rights and international affairs”.

She urged the graduates to keep human rights at the core of their working lives. “I understand sometimes it is difficult to fight for human rights and sometimes there is opposition, but believe in your core values and you will find allies in that journey; you will find allies that come from many different parts of the world, and particularly you will find many women that are committed to that message.

“Work in the field of social rights and right to health and you will be very rewarded in your life.”