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Education University of Groningen Summer Schools

Human Rights and Global Health Challenges

illustration of a patient file

Why are non-communicable diseases (NCDs) a legal issue? How far can a government go to protect public health? How do we generate accountability for human rights violations in a health context? These are just three of the big questions that we will be asking in this summer school.

Our week focuses on understanding the role of law and human rights in addressing health inequalities and global health concerns. Law is potentially a powerful tool to improve population health and to address health inequalities. Laws can encourage healthy and safe behaviours, they can change and shape our physical and social environments and the social determinants of health, and they can even structure the public health system. However, in practice, laws do not always properly respond to health problems and they do not always respect human rights. For example, a restrictive abortion law is at tension with the right of women to the highest attainable standard of health.

All in all, we seek to address a lack of understanding of how law should respond to health inequalities. We will shed light on the power of law and human rights to better protect health related interests. We will demonstrate legal and policy approaches to public health challenges through the examination of range of specific themes.

We will start the week with an introduction to international and domestic health law and human rights. Next, we address a number of specific themes from a legal perspective: health systems (mal)functioning, patients’ rights, reproductive health, mental health, the global increase in noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), as well as air pollution, climate change, and healthy cities.

This summer school will be taught by a group of experts working in the legal field who have ample experience teaching a multidisciplinary audience. Participants will be asked to actively engage with the material presented through group work exercises and presentations.

Feel welcome to visit the Health Equality in All Policies summer school page

Practical information
Dates & location
17 - 21 July 2023, Groningen, the Netherlands
Ba and Ma

Including participation, lunches, coffee/tea and social programme

€ 300 for University of Groningen & ENLIGHT students
€ 400 for students from partner universities
€ 500 for students from other universities

Students who wish to participate in both the ''Health Equality in All Policies'' summer school and the ''Human Rights and Global Health Challenges'' summer school will get a discount. The fees for these students are as follows:
€ 500 for University of Groningen & ENLIGHT students
€ 700 for students from partner universities
€ 900 for students from other universities

Academic coordinator
Prof. dr. Brigit Toebes

Partner universities

European partner universities

  • Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
  • University of Hamburg
  • University of Copenhagen

Non-European partner universities

  • Stellenbosch University
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • Osaka University
  • Universitas Gadjah Mada
  • Universidad de Antioquia
  • Universidad de Chile
  • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  • Universidade de São Paulo
  • Macquarie University

The summer school is open to Bachelor or Master students studying medicine, law, and health sciences with a keen interest in health and human rights, early career researchers in these areas, law and policy practitioners and civil society representatives working in the field of (global) health governance who aim to learn more on how to use law as a normative framework and regulatory tool. If you do not fall into one of these categories feel free to inquire if your background and interest will be well suited for participation in the summer school.

It is expected that the participants have a sufficient command of the English language to actively participate in the discussions and to present their own work in English.

Learning outcomes

After completing the summer school, participants will have an enhanced understanding of how law and human rights are relevant for effective regulation of health concerns. They will also gain insight on how a global and domestic response can best be defined and implemented and current challenges being faced.


  • What is law? What are human rights?
  • How do law and human rights respond to health inequalities?
  • Human rights in healthcare decision-making: the ‘Baby Ross’-case
  • How to lobby for human rights Oral child health through a human rights lens
  • Case study on the regulation of oral health actors
  • Health and human rights: Understanding health sector corruption in Indonesia
  • Health systems and human rights
  • Health systems and data protection
  • The right to mental health
  • Reproductive health
  • Human rights lessons for climate action from other global health challenges
  • Air pollution, climate change and human rights
  • Children’s rights in health care

Preparation: 20 hours
Lectures: 40 hours
Presentation: 0.2 hours

Upon successful completion of the programme, the Summer School offers a Certificate of Attendance that mentions the workload of 60 hours (28 hours corresponds to 1 ECTS). Students can apply for recognition of these credits to the relevant authorities in their home institutions, therefore the final decision on awarding credits is at the discretion of their home institutions. We will be happy to provide any necessary information that might be requested in addition to the certificate of attendance.

Application procedure

To apply, please fill out the online application form. Please note that you will be asked to upload a CV and motivation letter.

The deadline for application was 1 May 2023. If you apply after this deadline, you will be put on a waiting list. We will let you know by 15 June 2023 if a spot has opened up.

Last modified:04 May 2023 4.32 p.m.