Students Staff

13 August 2015

Essex supports UN mandate holder to promote health rights

The University of Essex has launched a new partnership with a United Nations independent expert to support the promotion and protection of the right to health.

Professor Dainius Puras

Dr Dainius Pūras

The project, funded by the Open Society Foundation, will see experts from Essex’s Human Rights Centre assist the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health Dr Dainius Pūras, who has joined the Centre as a Visiting Professor.

Dr Pūras is the latest in a long line of special rapporteurs to have received support or been hosted by the Human Rights Centre, including the current Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran Dr Ahmed Shaheed who is based at Essex.

The two-year project will support Dr Pūras with his mandate including his engagement with civil society, the preparation of his UN reports and other strategic interventions.

Julie Hannah, co-investigator on the project, explained: “We’ll be working with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen Dr Pūras’s engagement with civil society through regional consultations and expert meetings, and establish a research base at Essex to contribute to his thematic work. We will also help ensure that his research and reports are widely disseminated so that the right to health is securely embedded at the international and community levels.”

Dr Pūras, who was appointed UN Special Rapporteur a year ago, is the third holder of the right to health mandate after Anand Grover and Essex’s Professor Paul Hunt, and the first to have a medical rather than legal background.

Dr Pūras said: “I knew Professor Hunt from his mandate and wanted to consult with him because we have a mutual interest. With Dr Shaheed and Professor Sir Nigel Rodley as well, Essex has a reputation as a capital of mandate holders, and I am very happy to be making this list of names a little longer.”

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.

Lorna McGregor, Director of the Human Rights Centre, added: “We have a proud tradition of supporting and hosting UN special rapporteurs and believe that the multi-disciplinarity of our full-service Human Rights Centre offers Dr Pūras unique research and collaborative opportunities.”

Having visited the University’s Colchester Campus last month Dr Pūras hopes to return in the autumn for a launch event of the partnership.

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