Chicago Journal of International Law


In this article, I analyze the 1999 decision of the Venezuelan Supreme Court in the case of Cruz Bermadez, et al v Ministerio de Sanidad y Asistencia Social,' in which the Court held the government's failure to provide PLWHAs with access to ARV therapies violated their right to health. Before analyzing the Bermadez case, I briefly examine the international law concerning the right to health (Part II). This analysis focuses on specific problems that have made the right to health a difficult concept to define and implement effectively. These problems become central features of the Bermatdez case, as revealed by the status of the right to health in Venezuelan law and the arguments made by the PLWHAs and the government to the Venezuelan Supreme Court (Part III). The next part of the analysis considers the Venezuelan Supreme Court's decision and reasoning and its implications for discourse on the right to health in international law (Part IV). I conclude with general observations about how the Bermadez case helps illuminate not only debates on the right to health in international law, but also on whether the right to health retains importance for global public health in the twenty- first century (Part V).