ASH staff recently spent time in Geneva, Switzerland to attend the 41st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. The UN Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. Several of those rights, including the right to health, pertain to tobacco control and our work at ASH.
As part of our human rights-based approach to ending the tobacco epidemic, we are working to elevate tobacco within human rights bodies such as the Human Rights Council.
ASH and our partners submitted a written statement in advance of the three-week session, and also gave an oral statement during the general debate.
In addition, we hosted a side event and encouraged government and civil society representatives to attend and learn more about tobacco’s negative impact on human rights. We had numerous other meetings with country representatives to encourage them to consider tobacco as an important part of their human rights work in their home countries.
Our goal is for the devastation caused by tobacco to be taken up as an issue by the Human Rights Council. Tobacco remains the leading cause of global preventable death. Left unchecked, tobacco will kill 1 billion people this century and will cost the global economy up to two percent of its GDP, which is a substantial barrier to economic and human development.
The Council can call on governments to better protect their citizens from the harms of tobacco and the actions of the tobacco industry. The Human Rights Council can help governments recognize this for the serious human rights issue it is, and take action to end the tobacco epidemic.