Health impact assessment (HIA) is increasingly being used to predict the health and social impacts of domestic and global laws, policies and programs. In a comprehensive review of HIA practice in 2012, the authors indicated that, given the diverse range of HIA practice, there is an immediate need to reconsider the governing values and standards for HIA implementation . This article responds to this call for governing values and standards for HIA. It proposes that international human rights standards be integrated into HIA to provide a universal value system backed up by international and domestic laws and mechanisms of accountability. The idea of mainstreaming human rights into HIA is illustrated with the example of impact assessments that have been carried out to predict the potential effects of intellectual property rights in international trade agreements on the availability and affordability of medicines. The article concludes by recommending international human rights standards as a legal and ethical framework for HIA that will enhance the universal values of nondiscrimination, participation, transparency and accountability and bring legitimacy and coherence to HIA practice as well.
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