MDG 5, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND MATERNAL HEALTH IN AFRICA
that preventable maternal mortality and morbidity is a health, development
and human rights challenge that also requires the effective promotion and
protection of the human rights of women and girls . . .”247 As to how this
challenge might be tackled, the Human Rights Council recommends “the
integration of a human rights perspective in international and national
responses.”248 The Human Rights Council thus impliedly endorsed a
resolution of the African Commission on Human Rights, adopted in
2008.249 This recommendation is consistent with the central theme of this
paper –that is, the integration of a human rights approach to solving
maternal health difficulties, as elucidated in Part V of this work, holds the
key to jolting Africa out of its paralytic stupor into the cadre of nations
purposefully advancing toward MDG 5
International human rights law undoubtedly provides a useful tool with
which to assess the commitment of countries not only to maternal health but
to the health of the general population. For instance, the requirement that
States Parties deploy the “maximum of [their] available resources” toward
attaining the goals of the obligations they have assumed under the treaty.250
The meaning of the term “available resources” is not shrouded in mystery.
“[ B]oth the resources within a State as well as those available from the
international community through international co-operation and assistance”
are included in the calculation.251 The performance of each country is
judged by its commitment to “equitable and effective use of and access to
the available resources.”252 On this latter point, most countries in the region
are floundering and that, regrettably, is the problem.253 Concededly, in
terms of impoverishment, there is no place like Africa; nonetheless, the
region is not so penurious as to be incapable of attending to the maternal
health of its mothers. Although this claim seems contestable, the reverse is
the case. As the CESCR made quite explicit, no country or region is
incapable of attending to its mothers’ health – and that, precisely, is the
rationale that underscored the minimum core obligations from which no
derogation is allowed, regardless of the circumstances.254 Maternal health,
247. G. A. Res. 11/8, at 2, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/L. 11/Rev. 1 (June 18, 2009), available
248. Id. at 1.
249. African Comm’n on Human & Peoples’ Rights, supra note 151.
250. ICESCR, supra note 188, art. 2( 1).
251. The Limburg Principles, supra note 146, para. 26.
252. Id. para. 27.
253. See, e.g., WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2000, supra note 114.
254. See supra text accompanying notes 219–220, 233– 234.