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Legal and Policy Frameworks

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Legal and Policy Toolkit


UNDP is currently finalizing the most recent version of Legal and Policy section of the online Capacity Development Toolkit. This Legal and Policy Support section guides country stakeholders and implementing partners on how to address critical enablers for health – by protecting human rights & gender equality and promoting enabling legal and policy environments for all, including for vulnerable populations and key populations - to protect health rights, achieve universal health coverage and provide access to safe, affordable medicines and vaccines for all.

The new resource, to be launched at the end of October, includes step-by-step guidance, examples, case studies, guidelines, resources and tools. The Toolkit explains why human rights, gender equality and enabling legal frameworks are important to the work of the UNDP, the World Health Organisation, UN partners, the Global Fund, and country stakeholders.

UNDP’s Role

Promoting human rights, gender equality and enabling legal and policy frameworks.

UNDP’s Strategic Plan 2018-2021 sets out the direction for a new UNDP, optimized to help countries achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for all people, ensuring no one is left behind. UNDP supports country programmes to successfully address diverse development challenges, including through capacity development and support to reduce inequalities and promote the health of all people.

UNDP’s HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016-2021: Connecting the Dots elaborates UNDP’s work on HIV and health in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UNDP’s support for countries to address HIV, health and human rights is informed by the work of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, a commission of experts led by UNDP and convened on behalf of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. The GCHL has undertaken extensive research, consultation, analysis and deliberation during 2010 to 2018 on law, human rights, HIV and its co-infections and sexual and reproductive health and rights to guide national, rights-based responses to HIV, health and development.

Key Populations

Rights-based health responses help vulnerable and key populations to protect and promote their rights to non-discrimination, equality and freedom from violence, allowing them to:

Vulnerable and key populations include populations that live in poverty without access to safe housing, water, sanitation and nutrition; those who are stigmatized, discriminated against, marginalized by society and even criminalized in law, policy and practice. These populations may struggle to fulfil their human rights, including their rights to access health and social services. They live in environments of inequality where they are unable to thrive, feel safe and actively participate in all aspects of society. Communicable diseases such as HIV, TB and malaria, and non-communicable diseases such as cancers and chronic respiratory illnesses, disproportionately impact on vulnerable and key populations.

Rights-based health programmes work to address critical enablers - the various legal, political, social, cultural and economic factors that make these populations more vulnerable to infection or illness, or that create barriers to their access to prevention, treatment, care and support services.

Identifying human rights barriers

A critical first step to developing national plans, investment cases, Global Fund funding requests or other related national policies and strategies for effective national responses to health requires a country-led, evidence-based consultative dialogue and process to identify and understand.

  • Who are the vulnerable and key populations whose health is most at risk?
  • What human rights and gender-related barriers act to block access to health care services, and
  • How best to respond to address these critical enablers, by creating an enabling legal and policy framework that protects human rights, promotes gender equality and reduces stigma, discrimination and violence against vulnerable and key populations

This information and evidence on human rights, gender equality and key populations informs health plans, strategies, Global Fund and other funding requests the subsequent design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of rights-based programmes.

The United Nations Development Programme recognises that an enabling legal and policy framework that addresses critical enablers and removes human rights and gender-related barriers to health care requires mutually reinforcing interventions that include:

  • Monitoring and reviewing laws, regulations and policies to protect human rights and promote gender equality for all populations at risk of poor health, including key populations at risk of HIV, TB and malaria
  • Stigma and discrimination reduction programmes to reduce stigma and discrimination against vulnerable and key populations
  • Legal literacy to educate communities about human rights, gender equality and protections in law and policy for their rights in the context of health
  • Legal support services to support communities to get legal advice, access legal support, challenge violations and seek redress through litigation and other means
  • Training for health care workers to prevent stigma, discrimination and human rights violations during the delivery of HIV, TB and malaria services
  • Sensitization of law-makers and law enforcers to strengthen the awareness and understanding of how vulnerable and key populations experience human rights and gender-related barriers to access to health care, and access to justice and the need for rights-based responses and appropriate law enforcement
  • Addressing gender inequality, harmful gender norms and gender-based violence that impact on the health rights of affected populations
  • Capacity strengthening and mobilisation of civil society and key populations to participate in and advocate for rights-based health responses, and
  • Research and monitoring of ongoing human rights issues and violations and progress towards creating protective, enabling frameworks and advocacy to address law, human rights and gender equality issues through strategies such as law review and reform, strategic litigation and integration of rights-based responses in national health responses.