Assistant Professor Alana Klein teaches and researches in health law, criminal law, and human rights. The position of marginalized groups and individuals in decentralized and privatized systems and the role of accountability requirements in governance and decision-making are primary preoccupations in her research.
Prior to joining the Faculty, she was a senior policy analyst with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, where she worked on HIV/AIDS and immigration, legal and other barriers to harm-reduction programs for people who use illegal drugs, and law reform to promote the rights of women and girls in the context of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.
She has taught at Columbia Law School and Columbia University and has interned with the International Refugee Program at the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (now Human Rights First) and with the Palestinian Ministry of Economy and Trade. In 2002-2003, she was a law clerk to former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour and she was appointed to the Ontario Human Rights Commission in 2006.
J.S.D. (Columbia) 2011
LL.M. (Columbia) 2005
B.C.L., LL.B. (McGill) 2002
B.A. (Concordia) 1997
Assistant professor, McGill University, Faculty of Law (2008- )
Boulton Fellow, McGill University, Faculty of Law (2007-2008)
Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network (2006-2007)
Associate in Law, Columbia Law School (2003-2005)
Law clerk to Hon. Louise Arbour, Supreme Court of Canada (2002-2003)
Member of the Law Society of Upper Canada
Areas of Interest
Canadian and comparative constitutional law, human rights law, international law, criminal law
A. Klein, “Criminal Law, Public Health, and Governance of HIV Exposure and Transmission” (2009) 13 Int’l J. Hum. Rts. 251.
A. Klein, “Gladue in Quebec” (2009) 54 Crim. L. Q. 506.
A. Klein, “Judging as Nudging: New Governance Approaches for the Enforcement of Constitutional Social and Economic Rights” (2008) 39 Colum. Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 351.
A. Klein, Sticking Points: Barriers to Access to Needle and Syringe Programs in Canada. (Toronto: Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, 2007).
A. Klein, Immigration and HIV/AIDS: Final Report. (Montreal: Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, 2001).
The application forms for editorial, managerial and online editor positions are now available online. The deadline for applications is September 22.
Francesca Taddeo, Editor-in-Chief, vol 8
Jennifer Anderson, English Executive Editor
François Nolet-Lévesque, French Executive Editor
Vaughan Balderston, Executive Managing Editor
Rosel Kim, Executive Online Editor
Les formulaires de candidatures pour les postes de rédaction, d’administration et de rédaction web sont disponible en ligne.
La date limite pour la soumission de candidatures est le 22 septembre.
Francesca Taddeo, Rédactrice en chef, vol 8
Jennifer Anderson, Rédactrice exécutive pour l’anglais
François Nolet-Lévesque, Rédacteur exécutif pour le français
Vaughan Balderston, Rédacteur exécutif administratif
Rosel Kim, Rédactrice exécutive web
On 30 January 2013, disability rights scholar Anna Lawson delivered the Annual Lecture of the McGill Research Group on Health and Law. Lawson is Deputy Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds (UK).
The lecture highlighted how making progress in disability rights depends on both the achievement of the rights to health and equality. In other words, we need both equality in health (i.e. equality in accessing care, refusing unwanted treatment) and health in equality (i.e. preventing disability status from being a determinative factor in where people live and work). Lawson also stressed the importance of implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as well as an integrated approach to disability issues that reaches across disciplines.
Below is an overview of the lecture.
- 15% of the world’s population is disabled
- 1/5 of the world’s poorest are disabled
- There is a bilateral link between poverty and disability: if you are poor, you are more likely to become disabled; if you are disabled, you are more likely to be poor.
- 35% of all children not in school are disabled
- only 2% of disabled children are enrolled in school
- disabled people experience disproportionately high levels of unemployment
Equality in Health
Disabled people experience significant inequality across the globe. Realizing equality in health means achieving equality in the following areas:
EQUALITY IN REFUSING UNWANTED TREATMENT
Most people have the right to refuse treatment with informed consent. Disabled people, in particular girls and women, have been victim to the imposition of treatment such as mental health therapies and sterilisation. The CRPD says imposition of treatment without informed consent is torture and that there are ways for states to support disabled people in exercising their legal capacity in such situations.
EQUALITY IN ACCESSING GENERAL HEALTH CARE
Where health care is available, disabled people should have access like everyone else. However, there are institutional obstacles that currently prevent disabled people from accessing care in the same way as others. These obstacles include lack of accessible transport, inaccessible buildings and medical equipment, lack of sign language interpreters, and lack of awareness and understanding of disability issues by care workers.
EQUALITY IN ACCESSING DISABILITY-SPECIFIC TREATMENT
Disabled people may require specialized services related to their particular disabilities. These services place added demands on governments in caring for their citizens.
EQUALITY IN ACCESSING UNDERLYING DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH
There should be non-discriminatory access to an adequate standard of living, food, clothing, water, public housing, social protection and poverty reduction programs and disability-related expenses. Stigma can often cause disabled people to be refused these basic services. Therefore, states must challenge the stigmatization of disabled people in order to create access to water and sanitation.
Health in Equality
Health plays an important role in trying to realize equality.
DISABILITY STATUS RESTRICTS EQUALITY
Diagnoses of disability affect where people live, where they are educated, where they work, and the type of welfare benefits they receive (for instance, if one chooses to receive disability benefits instead of working full time).
HEALTH LIMITS THE ABILITY OF DISABLED PEOPLE TO BRING DISCRIMINATION CLAIMS
Disabled people must show they meet a certain definition of disability before bringing a claim for discrimination. This is especially difficult for people with fluctuating health conditions or progressive conditions that fall outside the accepted definition.
The Promise of the CRPD
The CRPD was celebrated upon its adoption by the disability movement as the beginning of a new era for disability rights. There are innovative provisions within the convention. For example, Art. 4(3) states that disabled people should be actively involved and consulted by governments in policies affecting them. However, the CRPD does not provide guidance on how actively involve disabled people in these decisions. It is hopeful that these details will come through individual and group complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which has already heard its first case (see HM v Sweden).
Going forward, we need to ensure that health does not inhibit equality. Implementing the CRPD will contribute to this goal, but there also need to be inclusive development practices that integrate disability into development frameworks like the Millennium Development Goals.
Take away message: until equality is tackled, disability will be a big problem. We must reach beyond our professional and disciplinary boundaries to begin addressing inequalities around us.