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But what about informed consent in the area of medical treatment, including preventive medical treatment? This is a controversial issue today in many countries, including the United States.

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Other developed countries that achieve impressive public health without resort to compulsion, including the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, South Korea, and Spain, among others.

Nonetheless, the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights Article 27 permits limitations on fundamental rights, but these limits must be imposed by law and must be “for the protection of public health or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” Furthermore, “any such law needs to be consistent with international human rights law.” International courts have developed a test to assess whether restrictions of fundamental rights are legitimate and lawful.

One of the core purposes of the United Nations, set forth in Article 1 of its Charter, is to achieve international cooperation “in promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all.” So the UN and the international community have obligations to respect human rights related to vaccination. That is an important question that deserves scrutiny, as it profoundly affects both individual and global public health.

Since World War II, the international community has recognized the grave dangers in involuntary scientific and medical experimentation on human subjects.

Many in the audience here today are branded “anti-vaccine,” although that is a gross distortion.

We are called this primarily to marginalize and dismiss our views.

When the doctor-patient relationship is based on coercion, trust is a casualty, and doctors then serve the state, and by extension the society, above their individual patients. Following the medical precautionary principle, the default position for vaccination must be recommendations, not compulsion.

This is a slippery slope, where civilized medicine has too often derailed in the past. Individuals, for themselves and their minor children, should have the right to accept or refuse these preventive medical interventions based on adequate information and without coercion, such as the threat of loss of economic or educational benefits.

The participating countries hoped this Declaration, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights before it, would become a set of guiding principles.

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