Proposal for A UN Special
the Integrity and Independence of Health Professionals
to the 56th Session of the United Nations
High Commission for Human Rights
The International Council of Nurses (ICN)
International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP)
World Medical Association (WMA)
Thank you for the opportunity to speak on behalf of the
International Council of Nurses, International Pharmaceutical Federation,
and World Medical Association. Nurses, pharmacists and physicians are key
players in the health team - delivering health care to individuals, families
and communities regardless of their colour, creed, gender, religion or political
affiliation. On behalf of our three organisations, I would like to express
our support for the UN High Commission for Human Rights in its initiatives
to ensure respect for human rights for all people, including health professionals.
As health professionals, we believe that health and human
rights can not be separated, since health is not possible for those whose
fundamental rights are violated. We are therefore proposing that a UN Special
Rapporteur be established to monitor and ensure the independence and integrity
of health professionals to provide care to all people.
This is the third consecutive year that we submit this
joint proposal, which we feel is worthy and requires attention. In recognition
of budget constraints, we are recommending that the remit of an existing Special
Rapporteur perhaps be expanded to include the surveillance and action on human
rights violations related to health professionals.
Health professionals have an ethical duty to serve humanity
in times of peace, during conflict and in disaster, to care for those that
have been tortured, and those that are sick and dying, regardless of their
political affiliation. It is incompatible with their professional duty for
health care providers to be directed by governments as to who they can or
cannot treat. Indeed it is against our ethical codes to discriminate on the
basis of colour, gender, creed, religion, social status or political affiliation.
To deny health care to anyone on these grounds would be a gross violation
of professional conduct and subject to severe measures, including de-registration.
Health professionals often suffer reprisals for providing
treatment and counselling to those whose human rights have been violated.
Governments that do not respect human rights often use torture as one of their
methods of coercion. Torture victims require treatment by health professionals,
who in turn often themselves become the victims of further attacks and reprisals.
As we speak, health professionals in European and several other countries
are being harassed, imprisoned and tortured because they have treated
patients who belong to other political parties.
It is paradoxical that health professionals suffer reprisals
for providing treatment and care to people. It is unacceptable that they are
often prevented from providing care, are tortured, imprisoned, banished or
killed in the line of duty. It is equally disturbing that health facilities
and health profession training institutions are too often targeted for wanton
Accordingly, we call on the UN High Commission for Human
Rights, governments, non-governmental organisations and others to give their
full support for the establishment of a UN Special Rapporteur charged to ensure
the independence and integrity of health professionals in providing
care to all people.
The World Health Professions Alliance brings
together medicine, nursing and pharmacy through their representative international
organisations, International Council of Nurses (ICN), International Pharmaceutical
Federation (FIP) and the World Medical Association (WMA) and represents
more than 20 million health professionals worldwide.
- The International
Council of Nurses (ICN) is a federation of 125 national nurses'
associations representing the millions of nurses worldwide. Operated
by nurses for nurses since 1899, ICN is the international voice of
nursing and works to ensure quality care for all and sound health policies
- The International Pharmaceutical
Federation (FIP) is the worldwide federation of national associations of pharmacists
and pharmaceutical scientists. Pharmacists are health care professionals
dedicated to improving access to and value of appropriate medicine use
- The World Medical Association (WMA) is a global federation of national medical
associations, representing the millions of physicians worldwide. Acting
on behalf of physicians and patients, the WMA endeavours to achieve the highest
possible standards of medical science, education, ethics and health care for
further information contact Linda Carrier-Walker Tel : +41 22 908
fax : +41 22 908 0101; email:
Web site www.icn.ch