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TB, Human Rights, and Universal Periodic Review

Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process through which the human rights record of each United Nations member state is reviewed by other countries every five years. Civil society organizations can submit information to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) and put forward recommendations for how countries under review can better respect their human rights obligations as established by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and any human rights treaties which the states have signed and ratified.

As a civil society organization, TAG regularly writes and submits these UPR reports analyzing the TB situations in UN member states.


October 12, 2018: Universal Periodic Review of China and Mexico

Treatment Action Group is proud to share two submissions on TB and human rights made to the HRC under its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism.

These detailed submissions were prepared to inform the 3rd Cycle UPR of China and Mexico. TAG analyzed the TB situation in each country through the lens of the human right to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications (i.e., the right to science). Established by Article 27 of the UDHR and Article 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to science sets forth the obligation of states to promote science and connect people to its benefits in a nondiscriminatory manner. The right to science is closely related to other human rights, including the rights to life, health, and information.

We’re releasing these reports to coincide with the UPR pre-session hearing for each country, a forum at which activists and civil society groups brief other UN member states about the human rights situation in the countries being reviewed. 

TAG’s submission on China focuses on China’s obligations to address its drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) crisis. While China has made significant strides in reducing TB incidence and mortality, it has failed to close deadly gaps in access to DR-TB diagnosis, treatment, and care. Up to 100,000 people get DR-TB in China each year, yet in 2017 fewer than 12,000 had a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis and fewer than 6,000 were started on treatment. Among those who started treatment, less than half had a successful outcome. Our submission voices particular alarm about China’s failure to adequately finance and assume responsibility for DR-TB services in the wake of graduating from Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria support in 2014.

Read our submission on China in English and Chinese.


TAG’s submission on Mexico focuses on shortcomings in the Mexican government’s response to TB pertaining to the material lack of health products, the lack of policies on their use, the disarray of procurement systems, and the lack of investment in research to ensure the availability of better innovations required to end TB. We also raise concerns about inequitable access to the highest available standard of TB prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in Mexico, particularly among indigenous groups.

Read our submission on Mexico in English and Spanish.


September 25, 2018: UPDATE on previous UPR submission on TB and human rights in the United Arab Emirates

These two submissions follow on TAG’s participation in the UPR of the United Arab Emirates last year. In that submission and at the UAE’s pre-session civil society hearing, TAG raised concerns about the common practice of UAE authorities deporting first-time migrant workers found to have TB during mandatory medical exams. Compounding the issue, the TB testing methods used in medical exams are not aligned with World Health Organization guidelines and do not make use of the highest available standard of diagnostic technology. Additionally, many migrant workers are denied access to their medical information.

On September 25, 2018, TAG sent a letter to the to the UAE Missions to the United Nations in New York and Geneva encouraging the UAE to take advantage of the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on TB to commit to reforming migrant workers’ rights in the context of TB—starting by discontinuing the practice of using TB screening as an instrument to determine lawful residency. More information on TAG’s advocacy to end the deportation of migrant workers with TB or presumed TB from the UAE can be found here.

Our recent letter to the UAE UN Missions also raised new concerns not contained in the UPR submission. TAG is alarmed to have received detailed personal testimonies in recent weeks from first-time migrant workers who were deported from the UAE after TB screening. In the cases described to TAG, workers were detained prior to deportation, and there is indication these detentions occurred outside of healthcare facilities and were facilitated by the workers’ employers. The WHO is unequivocal in saying the involuntary isolation and detention should be considered last resort measures and must never occur outside of healthcare settings.

Read a one-page summary of the TB and human rights situation of migrant workers in the UAE, including new concerns about involuntary detention, one year after TAG’s UPR submission.