Cover of When Misfortune Becomes Injustice by Alicia Ely Yamin
When Misfortune Becomes Injustice
Evolving Human Rights Struggles for Health and Social Equality
Alicia Ely Yamin


February 2020
328 pages.
from $26.00

Cloth ISBN: 9781503605411
Paper ISBN: 9781503611306



When Misfortune Becomes Injustice surveys the last thirty years of health, economic, and social rights advancement within the international human rights community. Alicia Ely Yamin reflects on her firsthand experience as an academic, practitioner, and advocate to explore the shift in how international human rights bodies approached issues of health and ill-health. Yamin argues the narrative has evolved to view health as a human right, encapsulating health crises as injustices, not simply misfortunes.

Starting with debates in the 1970s, Yamin carefully surveys the points of intersection and friction between the fields of law, public health, and economics and development conversations to show how the general discourse evolved over time. When Misfortune Becomes Injustice tells a story of extraordinary progress with respect to the right to health over the last few decades, including how traditional forms of tyranny and discrimination were curbed, and how new discourses of equality were formed. However, Yamin shows that the possibilities and political space necessary to advance a robustly egalitarian health rights agenda are increasingly shrinking with growing inequality, and a greater attention to diverse strategies for resistance and social transformation is sorely needed.

About the author

Alicia Ely Yamin currently leads the Global Health and Rights Project, a joint collaboration between the Petrie-Flom Center on Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Ethics at Harvard Law School and the Global Health Education and Learning Incubator at Harvard University. Yamin is known globally for her pioneering scholarship and advocacy in relation to economic and social rights, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and the right to health.