Alicia Ely Yamin

Global Fellow

Director of Health and Human Rights Initiatives at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center.

Alicia Ely Yamin is the Director of Health and Human Rights Initiatives at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University and Visiting Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center. Yamin is also an Adjunct Lecturer on Law and Global Health at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, a Global Fellow at the Centre for Law and Social Transformation in Norway, and was selected as the 2015-16 Marsha Lilien Gladstein Visiting Professor of Human Rights, University of Connecticut.

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.  Before joining Georgetown’s faculty this year, Yamin was at Harvard University, where she taught at both the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Law School, as well as directing the JD/MPH Program and serving as Policy Director of the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center on Health and Human Rights. From 2007 to 2011, Yamin held the prestigious Joseph H. Flom Fellowship on Global Health and Human Rights at Harvard Law School.  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, and was on the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. Yamin was a member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Economic and Social Rights for 15 years (Chair 2009-2015; Vice-Chair 2001-2008).

Yamin is known globally for her pioneering scholarship and advocacy in relation to economic and social rights and rights-based approaches to health, and in particular maternal and sexual and reproductive health.  She has published multiple books and edited volumes, in English and Spanish, as well as over 80 scholarly articles in both public health and law journals.

In 2016, Yamin was appointed by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General to the Independent Accountability Panel (EWEC), on which she currently serves. She is also a commissioner on the Lancet-O’Neill Institute Commission on Global Health and the Law. She has previously served on the Expert Group to the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Task Force on ‘Making Fair Choices Toward UHC’, and WHO’s steering committee for the research project, ‘Evidence of Impacts of Human Rights-Based Approaches to Women’s and Children’s Health’.

Yamin has contributed to and consulted on the drafting of multiple General Comments by UN treaty bodies, as well as UN Human Rights Council resolutions.  She has also participated in and advised on landmark litigation relating to ESC rights, and in particular health- and sexual and reproductive rights, in multiple countries and regions, as well as to supra-national adjudicative bodies. Yamin regularly participates in regional judicial colloquia and strategic litigation courses for practitioners, as well as expert consultations relating to human rights and development.

Yamin was the only non-national appointed by the Colombian Constitutional Court as an Independent Expert on the implementation of its 2008 decision, T 760/08, calling for restructuring the country’s health system, and similarly by Kenya’s Constitutional Implementation Commission to the Oversight Committee for its work on the right to 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