Alicia Ely Yamin

Global Fellow

Adjunct Lecturer on Global Health and Population at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Senior Fellow at the Petrie-Flom Center, Leader of the Global Health and Rights Project

Alicia Ely Yamin, JD MPH is  an Adjunct Lecturer on Global Health and Population at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, and affiliated faculty member of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.  Yamin leads the Global Health and Rights Project (GRHP). GRHP  is a collaboration of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics (PFC) at Harvard Law School , where she is a Senior Fellow, and the Global Health Education and Learning Incubator (GHELI) at Harvard University, where she is a Senior Scholar.   

 In 2016, the UN Secretary General appointed Yamin as one of ten international experts to the Independant Accountability Panel for the Global Strategy on Women’s, Children’s and Adolecents’ Health in the Sustainable Development Goals. She was re-appointed in 2018.

 Between 2016 and the end of 2018,  Yamin was a Visiting Professor of Law and Senior Advisor to the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law.  Prior to her time at Georgetown, Yamin was a Lecturer on Law and Global Health at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Director of the JD/MPH Program, and the Policy Director at the François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.

 Trained in both law and public health at Harvard, Yamin’s 20+-year career at the intersection of health and human rights has bridged academia and activism.  From 2007 to 2011, Yamin held the Joseph H. Flom Fellowship on Global Health and Human Rights at Harvard Law School, while serving as a global advisor to Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity Campaign in relation to maternal health.  Prior to that, she served as Director of Research and Investigations at Physicians for Human Rights, where she oversaw all of the organization’s field investigations. From 1996-2002, Yamin was on the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, where she was also a Staff Attorney at the Law and Policy Project.

 Known globally for her pioneering scholarship and advocacy in relation to economic and social rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the right to health, Yamin has contributed to multiple General Comments by UN treaty bodies, as well as UN Human Rights Council resolutions. She regularly advises on specific cases, submitting amicus curiaebriefs and providing expert testimony to tribunals and legislative bodies around the globe relating to the application of international and constitutional law to health issues.

 Yamin has published over a hundred scholarly articles on international and comparative constitutional law, development and public health. She has edited and written multiple books, in both English and Spanish. Her recent book,  Power, Suffering and the Struggle for Dignity: Human Rights Frameworks for Health and Why They Matter, with a foreword by Paul Farmer (UPenn, 2016) is now available in Spanish (Ediciones UniAndes, 2018). Her forthcoming book, When Misfortune Becomes Injustice: Evolving Human Rights Struggles for Health and Social Equality will be published by Stanford University Press in 2019.

Yamin currently serves on two Lancet Commissions, relating to Global Health and the Law and Arctic Health, respectively.  She also has participated in numerous WHO and UN Task Forces/Steering Committees.

 Yamin was a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Economic and Social Rights for 15 years and the Chair from 2009-2014 (Vice-Chair, 2001-2009). She remains on the Global Advisory Council of CESR.  She is also on the Board of Directors of Women in Global Health, and chairs the advisory council of the Health Law Institute, which respectively promote women’s leadership and health workers’ rights in global health.

Selected Activities 2018

(1) Global Health Governance: UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel for the Global Strategy in the SDGs

  • The overarching objective of the IAP is to provide an independent and transparent review of progress on the implementation of the 2016-30 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health and to identify and advocate the necessary actions to ensure achievement of the Strategy’s goals. The IAP is a key (and unique) institution in the Strategy’s Unified Accountability Framework (UAF).The IAP prepares annual reports on the State of Women’s, Children’s and Adolescents’ Health for the UNSG that review monitoring efforts for the Global Strategy and provide all stakeholders in the global community with evidence, recommendations and guidance on the progress, challenges and constraints involved in achieving the Strategy’s objectives for the health of women, children and adolescents.
  • The 2018 Report is on the accountability of the private sector in global health and development. I was named to the drafting dub-committee for this forthcoming report, which will be released at the UNGA in 2018, for which among other things I attended meetings with OECD in Paris France- November 2-5, 2017. At the IAP 7th meeting Tbilisi, Georgia- February 3-8, 2018 The Chair of the Education, Science and Culture Committee, Mariam Jashi and the Chair of the Health Care and Social Issues Committee, Akaki Zoidze met with the UN IAP members.

(2) Making Health and Human Rights More Accessible to Different Audiences and Constituencies.

The Health and Human Rights Initiative is exploring creative approaches to making health and human rights issues more visible and comprehensible. As the first installment of this effort, the Initiative invited artist Jesse Krimes to speak on the themes which permeate his artwork, including the dehumanizing aspects of incarceration and the Criminal Justice System. Jesse engaged in dialogue with experts bringing a multidimensional perspective to the topic.  In November, we hosted a second dialogue with world-renowned Kenyan artist, Wangechi Mutu, who explores themes of gender violence and African identities in her work. Additionally, April 2018 we hosted Pablo Helguera for the third Art Dialogues event. Pablo Helguera is a Mexican artist based in New York City, widely known for his socially engaged art including the monumental and heroic project, the School of Panamerican Unrest – a 20,000 mile journey across the Americas undertaken in 2006 with a mobile schoolhouse as a platform for collective learning in community-specific participatory workshops.

(3) Teaching:  “Health, Human Rights and Social Justice,” Georgetown University Law Center Weekend Intensive Washington,DC- March 23-26, 2018

Human rights is now the dominant language for claims of human emancipation around the world; human rights theory and practice have permeated many domains beyond the law, including health.  Yet the landscape of global health is marked by vast inequities and brutal deprivation, and it is not yet clear how bringing human rights concepts and strategies to bear will change the lives of the millions of people around the globe who are suffering.  In this course, we will explore these questions and see how human rights provides not the only, but one, critical framework and set of tools through which to advance social justice in health.  Nonetheless, the use of human rights to advance social justice faces vexing challenges, including being reduced to rhetoric by powerful actors and becoming overly legalistic.

(4) Additional Significant Presentations (keynotes or distinguished lectures) with Health and Human Rights

  • Keynote at Inter-American Dialogue on Sexual and Reproductive Rights, “Situating Abortion Struggles in Latin America: Finding our Feet, Standing our Ground”, Washington DC – December 6, 2017
  • PAHO’s International Human Rights Day Celebration Keynote speaker, “Reducing Maternal Mortality with a Human Rights-Based Approach” -December 8, 2017
  • Power and Politics in Global Health, Keynote presentation Centre for Development and the Environment University of Oslo, Norway- January 30, 2018
  • Unite for Sight Conference, “Accountability in Global Health, SDGs and Beyond”New Haven CT- April 14, 2018
  • Keynote address during Qatar Conference on Migrant Health Workers, Doha, Qatar- April 25, 2018

Publications (2018)

Law, Development and Human Rights Journal Articles

  1. Alicia Ely Yamin, How do we know what we claim to know? Sexual and Reproductive Rights in the Sustainable Development Goals, Global Pol’y (forthcoming, 2018).
  2. Alicia Ely Yamin & Andrés Constantin, A Long And Winding Road: The Evolution Of Applying Human Rights Frameworks To Health 49 Geo. J. Int’l L. (forthcoming 2018).
  3. Alicia Ely Yamin & Corey Prachniak-Rincón, Compounded Injustice and Cautionary Notes for “Progress” in the Sustainable Development Era: Considering the Case of Sterilization of Women Living with HIV, 41 J. L. & Gender (forthcoming 2018).
  4. Camila Gianella & Alicia Ely Yamin, Struggle and Resistance: Using International Bodies to Advance Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Peru, Berkeley J. Gender L. & Just. (forthcoming 2018).
  5. Alicia Ely Yamin, El Futuro en el Espejo, 15 Jurídica Universidad Palermo (Rev. Jur. Univ. Palermo) (forthcoming 2018) (Arg.).
  6. Alicia Ely Yamin, Neil Datta, and Ximena Andion, Behind the Curtain: The Roles of Transnational Actors in Legal Mobilization Over Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Geo. J. Gender & L. (forthcoming 2018).
  7. Alicia Ely Yamin, De los Ideales a las Herramientas, 5 Latinoamericana De Derecho Internacional [Latin American Journal of International Law] (forthcoming 2018).

Books, Book Chapters, and Monographs:

  1. Alicia Ely Yamin, From Tragedy to Injustice: Using Human Rights to Advance Global Health and Social Change (forthcoming 2019). 
  2. Alicia Ely Yamin, Health and Social Justice, in Oxford Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Malcolm Langford and Katherine Young, eds, forthcoming 2019).
  3. Alicia Ely YaminStrategies for Promoting Justice through Health Rights Litigation, in Research Handbook on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Jackie Dugard, Bruce Porter, and Daniela Ikawa eds., forthcoming 2019). 
  4. Alicia Ely Yamin, Poder, Sufrimiento y la lucha por la dignidad: Por qué importan los marcos de derechos humanos? (forthcoming 2018).
  5. Alicia Ely Yamin & Andrés Constantin, Evolution of the Health & Human Rights Movement, in Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-Based Governance for a Globalizing World (Benjamin Meier & Lawrence Gostin eds., 2018).
  6. Alicia Ely Yamin, Democracy, Health Systems and the Right to Health: Narratives of Charity, Markets and Citizenship, in Human Rights, Democracy and Legitimacy in the Twenty-First Century (Silja Vonecky & Gerald Neuman eds., forthcoming 2018).




Abortion Rights Lawfare in Latin America
2014 - 2017