Table 1: Minority Health and the Right to Non-Discrimination
Examples of Human Rights Violations

  • Housing policies force ethnic, minority communities into separate settlements that lack basic infrastructure and render inhabitants more vulnerable to illness and disease.
  • Ethnic minority members are more likely to be evicted from their homes and left to fend for themselves on the street.
  • Ethnic minority communities are expelled from their land and forced into settlements with inadequate facilities.
  • Hospitals place ethnic minority women in a separate maternity ward.
  • Denial of medical treatment, substandard care, or segregated care and treatment leading to severe pain and suffering for minorities.
Human Rights Standards Treaty Body Interpretation
ICCPR 2(1): Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. HRC: Referring to ongoing discrimination faced by the Roma in almost all aspects of life covered by the ICCPR in Slovakia CCPR/C/SVK/CO/3 (HRC, 2011) and Hungary CCPR/CO/74/HUN (HRC, 2002), para. 7.
ICESCR 2(2): The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to guarantee the rights enunciated in the present Covenant shall be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, birth or other status.

ICESCR 3: The States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights set forth in the present Covenant.

CESCR: Recommending that Moldova “take urgent measures to ensure universal access to affordable primary health care, including by increasing the number of family doctors and community health centres, and include all members of society, including Roma, in the compulsory health insurance scheme. The committee also recommends that the state party take measures to ensure that emergency ambulance services are extended to Roma and older persons, without exception, and establish a special centre for the submission of complaints regarding the provision of such services.” E/C.12/MDA/CO/2 (CESCR, 2011).

CESCR: Noting persistent discrimination against the Roma in Greece, Lithuania, and Serbia in the fields of housing, health, employment, and education. E/C.12/1/ADD.97 (CESCR, 2004), para. 11; E/C.12/1/ADD.96 (CESCR, 2004), para. 9; e/c.12/1/ADD.108 (CESCR, 2005) para. 13.

CESCR: Noting that many Roma settlements in Serbia lack access to basic services such as electricity, running water, sewage facilities, medical care, and schools. E/C.12/1/ADD.108 (CESCR, 2005), para. 30.

CRC 2(1): States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. CRC Committee: Noting that children in Roma communities in Greece are exposed to substandard living conditions, including inadequate housing, poor sanitation and waste disposal, and no running water. CRC/C/15/ADD.170 (CRC, 2002), para. 64.

CRC Committee: Recommending that Norway “make every effort to ensure that children from ethnic minority backgrounds and indigenous children have equal access to all children’s rights, including access to welfare, health services and schools …” CRC/C/NOR/CO/4 (CRC, 2010).

CRC Committee: Recommended that the Philippines “implement policies and programmes in order to ensure equal access for indigenous and minority children to culturally appropriate services, including social and health services and education.” CRC/C/PHL/CO/3-4 (CRC, 2009)

ICERD 2: States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races. CERD: Recommending improving the health conditions of the Roma population: Georgia CERD/C/GEO/CO/4-5 (CERD, 2011); Moldova CERD/C/MDA/CO/8-9 (CERD, 2011); Bosnia and Herzegovina CERD/C/BIH/CO/7-8 (CERD, 2010); Slovenia CERD/C/SVN/CO/6-7 (CERD, 2010); Slovakia CERD/C/SVK/CO/6-8 (CERD, 2010); etc.

CERD: Recommending that the Czech Republic ensure that domestic legislation clearly prohibit racial discrimination in the enjoyment of the right to housing and protects the Roma from evictions. CERD/C/CZE/CO/7, March 2007.

CERD: Linking the critical health situation of Roma communities in Lithuania to their poor living conditions and recommending that the state address issues of drinking water supplies and sewage disposal systems in Roma settlements. CERD/C/LTU/CO/3 (CERD, 2006), para. 22.

CERD: Urging Albania “to fully implement all anti-discrimination policies that have been adopted with regard to the Roma minority in access to … health. CERD/C/ALB/CO/5-8 (CERD, 2011).

CEDAW 2: States Parties condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women. CEDAW Committee: Recommending that Canada “develop a specific and integrated plan for addressing the particular conditions affecting aboriginal women, both on and off reserves, and of ethnic and minority women, including poverty, poor health, inadequate housing, low school-completion rates, low employment rates, low income and high rates of violence.” CEDAW/C/CAN/CO/7 (CEDAW, 2008).

CEDAW Committee: Recommending that Japan “take effective measures, including the establishment of a policy framework and the adoption of temporary special measures, to eliminate discrimination against minority women.” CEDAW/C/JPN/CO/6 (CEDAW, 2009).

CEDAW Committee: Noting the multiple forms of discrimination faced by Roma women and girls in Romania, who remain marginalized with regard to their education, health, housing, employment, and participation in political and public life. CEDAW/C/ROM/CO/6 (CEDAW, 2006), para. 26.

CEDAW 12(1): States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.

CEDAW 12(2): Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph I of this article, States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.

CEDAW Committee: Explaining that “[s]tates parties are required by article 12 to take measures to ensure equal access to health care … In some States there are traditional practices perpetuated by culture and tradition that are harmful to the health of women and children. These practices include dietary restrictions for pregnant women, preference for male children and female circumcision or genital mutilation.” General Recommendation No. 19 (11th Session, 1992), para. 19 -20.

Other Interpretations

International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, Art. 7. States Parties undertake, in accordance with the international instruments concerning human rights, to respect and to ensure to all migrant workers and members of their families within their territory or subject to their jurisdiction the rights provided for in the present Convention without distinction of any kind.

Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (Europe)

European Charter, Art. 21(1). Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, or sexual orientation shall be prohibited. Art 22. The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity.

Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam, as adopted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Art. 15. The child [regardless of minority status] is entitled to physical and psychological care.

Council of Europe: Convention on Biomedicine and Human Rights (Oviedo Convention) (1): Parties to this Convention shall protect the dignity and identity of all human beings and guarantee everyone, without discrimination, respect for their integrity and other rights and fundamental freedoms with regard to the application of biology and medicine.

European Union Racial Equality Directive: Council Directive 2000/43/EC of June 29, 2000, implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin.