The deaths and injuries suffered by women and adolescent girls in pregnancy and childbirth, as well as by infants and young children, are largely preventable, yet they still occur at alarming rates.

Under international human rights law, governments have legal obligations to maintain the highest possible standard of health and health care for women, children and adolescents. There is also increasing evidence that systematic application of human rights standards and principles contributes to health.

The Human Rights Council has recognized that applying a rights-based approach to the reduction of maternal and child mortality and morbidity is key to making meaningful progress in this area. The application of human rights-based approaches in the areas of women and children’s health is increasingly gaining acceptance among a diverse range of stakeholders.

Technical guidance in applying a human rights-based approach

The Office of the High Commissioner has produced two technical guidance documents on the application of a human rights-based approach to the implementation of policies and programmes to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity, and under-5 child mortality and morbidity.