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2 posts from August 2019


Philip Alston, the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Discusses His Recent Report, "Climate Change and Poverty" (August 28th)

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In late June, Professor Philip Alston, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, published "Climate Change and Poverty."  The 20-page report is unsparing in its criticism of the response, or lack thereof, by corporations, governments, NGOs and the human rights community to the climate crisis, moreover their response concerning the effect the crisis will have on the poor - whom will disproportionately bear the burden of climate emergency.   "Government, and too many in the human rights community," he wrote, "have failed to seriously address climate change for decades."  "Most human rights bodies have barely begun," he stated, "to grapple with what climate change portends for human rights."  "There is no recognition of the need for seep social and economic transformation."  As a result, "Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health and poverty reduction."  Professor Alston concludes his report by writing, "The human rights community, with a few notable exceptions, has been every bit as complacent as most governments in the face of the ultimate challenge to mankind represented by climate change. The steps taken by most United Nations human rights bodies have been patently inadequate and premised on forms of incremental managerialism and proceduralism which are entirely disproportionate to the urgency and magnitude of the threat.  Ticking boxes will not save humanity or the planet from impending disaster."  (This discussion is my 10th concerning the climate crisis over the past 2 plus years.)  

During this 27 minute conversation Professor Alston describes the role of the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, discusses the genesis of his report and provides an overview of its findings.  He comments what he terms the "patently inadequate" response to date by the human rights community including the UN's Human Rights Council, in response to the climate crisis.  He also discusses how the growing climate crisis refugee crisis is being addressed, as an international criminal law professor his view regarding prosecuting corporations and their CEOs for having devastated the environment, the Juliana and related court cases seeking climate justice, and the upcoming UM climate summit this September 23rd.   

Philip Alston has served as the United Nations' Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights since 2014.  In forwarding his work he has reported on Chile, China, Mauritania, Romania, Saudi Arabia and the US.  He was previously UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions from 2004 to 2010.  He was a Download
member of the Group of Experts on Darfur appointed in 2007 and served as special adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals.  He has also served as UNICEF's legal adviser.  In the field of international law, Professor Alston was editor-in-chief of the European Journal of International Law from 1996 through 2007.  He was a co-founder of both the European Society of International Law and the Australian and New Zealand Society of International Law.  As a UN, he worked in Geneva on human rights issues from 1978 to 1984.  He has worked as a consultant to the ILO, the UNDP Human Development Report, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, UNESCO, OECD, UNICEF, and many other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations.  Professor Alston is also presently the John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University's Law School where his teaching focus is on international law, human rights law, and international criminal law.  He also co-chairs the NYU Center for Human Rights and Global Justice.  During the 1980s Professor Alston taught at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and at Harvard Law School.  Afterward, he became Professor of Law and Foundation Director of the Center for International and Public Law at the Australian National University, a post he held until 1995.  From 1996 to 2001 he was Professor of International Law at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy, where he was also head of department and co-director of the Academy of European Law.  Professor Alston received degrees in law and in economics in Australia and a JSD from Berkeley.  

Professor Alston's report is at: https://chrgj.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/UNSR-Poverty-Climate-Change-A_HRC_41_39.pdf.

In May 2018 Professor Alston published a related report on extreme poverty in the US, it is at: “Report of the Special Rapporteur On Extreme Poverty and Human Rights on His Mission to the United States."  My summary of this report is at: https://thehealthcareblog.com/blog/2018/08/22/the-uns-extreme-poverty-report-further-evidence-us-healthcare-is-divorced-from-reality/.


What About the Drug Shortage Problem? (August 12th)

This past Friday, August 9th, STAT published my essay titled, "Presidential Candidates Aren't Talking About the Drug Shortage.  They Should Be."   

For all the discussion/effort this Congress concerning drug policy reform, moreover regarding excessive pricing there is none about worsening drug shortages (generally an under pricing problem)  - and the related quality problem in the generic drug manufacturing sector.  On the latter, see my July 17th interview with Katherine Eban concerning her recent, Bottle of Lies.  Nor are any of the presidential candidates, at least to date, discussing.  

The essay is at: https://www.statnews.com/2019/08/09/drug-shortages-presidential-candidates-policy/.