Report on the right to health of adolescents

4 April 2016
Special Rapporteur on the right to health
At the Human Rights Council’s 32nd session


This report focuses on the right of adolescents to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. It also focuses on the imperative to implement measures necessary to guarantee optimum health and development in accordance with the unique nature of adolescence.

In the report, the Special Rapporteur elaborates on mental health, sexual and reproductive health rights, and substance use and drug control, in view of the particular challenges they pose in balancing adolescents’ emerging autonomy with their right to protection.

Adolescents need to be protected from violence, exploitation and other adversities, but the nature of those protections and their application must take into account the emerging competencies and evolving capacities acquired throughout adolescence.

Among the numerous recommendations in the report, States should invest in empowering adolescents by respecting their rights and autonomy, and by recognizing their capacities and investing in their health and resilience. In particular, the report advocates for the introduction of a legal presumption of competence that an adolescent seeking preventive or time-sensitive health goods and services—including for sexual and reproductive health—has the requisite capacity to access such goods and services.