Research Project

UN Mandate on the Right to Health

Enhancing civil society engagement and the research capacity of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health.

Our Human Rights Centre is committed to using its unique blend of theory and practice expertise to make human rights institutions strong and effective.

In 2015 we launched a new partnership with Dr Dainius Pūras - the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health. This is only the latest development in our long tradition of supporting the work of UN independent experts.

The UN mandate and Essex

Essex’s Professor Paul Hunt was the first expert to hold the position of UN Special Rapporteur on the right to health when the mandate was created in 2002. Since then, both he, and his successor, Professor Anand Grover, have developed a rich body of work around the right to health.

Dr Dainius Pūras

In 2014, Dr Pūras became the first medical doctor to be appointed to this role. Dr Pūras is Head of the Child Psychiatry and Social Paediatrics Centre at Vilnius University in Lithuania and a consultant at the Child Development Centre at Vilnius University Hospital.

He has been involved in transforming public health policies and services for 30 years and has previously served as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

In May 2015, Dr Pūras joined Essex as a Visiting Professor heralding the next chapter in our support for the mandate.

Our team will assist Dr Pūras in developing the research to support his thematic reporting to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly. Importantly, our team will coordinate the consultative activities for Dr Pūras to ensure his thematic work is underpinned by robust consultation from civil society.

The partnership is funded by the Open Society Foundation's Public Health Programme.


Find out more

About the UN Special Rapporteur and the right to health mandate

Dr Dainius Puras

The United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Dr Dainius Pūras from Lithuania as Special Rapporteur on the right to health at its twenty-sixth session in June 2014. Dr Mr Pūras, a medical doctor with notable expertise on mental health and child health, took up his functions as Special Rapporteur on 1 August 2014.

Dr Pūras is a Professor and the Head of the Centre for Child psychiatry social paediatrics at Vilnius University, and teaches at the Faculty of Medicine, Institute of International Relations and Political Science and Faculty of Philosophy at Vilnius University, Lithuania. He is also Visiting Professor at the Ilia State University, Georgia. As a medical doctor, he serves as a consultant at the Child Development Center, at Vilnius University Hospital.

Dainius Pūras is a human rights advocate who has been actively involved during the last 30 years in the process of transforming public health policies and services, with special focus on the rights of children, persons with mental disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. He was the founder of Lithuanian Society of Families with Children who have Intellectual Disabilities; the first President of the Lithuanian Psychiatric Association; the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Vilnius University; and the Chairman of the board of two non-governmental organisations in Lithuania, the Global Initiative on Psychiatry and the Human Rights Monitoring Institute.

As a researcher, Dr Pūras has led and actively participated in projects at the national and international level in areas such as mental health policies and services, policies and services for children and families at risk, rights and needs of children with developmental disabilities, and prevention of violence. Dr Pūras works closely with different stakeholders for the translation of scientific evidence into effective policies and practices through the application of modern human rights and public health approaches.

Between 2007 and 2011, Dr Pūras served as a member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. He has been an independent expert and consultant to numerous governments, NGOs, and UN agencies and programmes in the field of the right to health. He is author of over 60 scientific publications covering issues such as public health, mental health, public health policy, disabilities, and prevention of violence.

The mandate

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health was originally established by the Commission on Human Rights in April 2002 by resolution 2002/31. Subsequent to the replacement of the Commission by the Human Rights Council in June 2006, the mandate was endorsed and extended by the Human Rights Council by its resolution 6/29 of 14 December 2007.

The Special Rapporteur implements the mandate through different means and activities. As assigned by the different resolutions related to the mandate:

  • The Special Rapporteur presents annual reports to the Human Rights Council and to the General Assembly on the activities and studies undertaken in the view of the implementation of the mandate;
  • He/she monitors the situation of the right to health throughout the world. He/she identifies general trends related to the right to health and undertakes country visits which provide the Special Rapporteur with a first-hand account on the situation concerning the right to health in a specific country;
  • He/She communicates with states and other concerned parties with regard to alleged cases of violations of the right to health and other issues related to his/her mandate;
  • He/She promotes the full realisation of the right to health through dialogue with relevant actors by participating in seminars, conferences, expert meetings.

Key thematic areas

Key thematic areas addressed are:

  • Right to health in early childhood
  • Right to health in adolescence
  • The right to health and sustainable development goals
  • The right to the highest attainable standard of mental health
  • The right to health and corruption
  • The right to health and confinement
  • The right to health and people on the move

Publications of the UN Special Rapporteur

Special reports

  • The Criminalization of Healthcare (.pdf) is a special report produced with the Safeguard Health in Conflict Coalition, the University of Essex, and the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. It reviews the laws, prosecutions and other forms of state-inflicted violence in multiple countries against individual healthcare providers for providing healthcare to alleged terrorists or enemies.
  • To learn more about the countries reviewed in this report, please see this Appendices: Country Profiles (.pdf)


Thematic reports

Country reports

Country reports will be added as they are available.

Interventions and press statements