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Medical News & Perspectives
July 17, 2002

WHO Declares the Individual's Right to Be Safe

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JAMA. 2002;288(3):305-306. doi:10.1001/jama.288.3.305-JMN0717-3-1

Montreal—Is "safety" a human right?

Attendees at the World Health Organization (WHO) Conference on Injury Prevention and Control think so. This spring, they approved the Montreal Declaration: People's Right to Safety.

The 11-article document, which could be adopted by the United Nations, states: "Safety is a fundamental right. It is essential for the attainment of health, peace, justice, and well being."

Worldwide, nearly 6 million people die annually from unintentional injuries, making trauma the second leading cause of death after cardiovascular diseases. Road injuries, suicide, homicide, war, drowning, fire, and intoxication are the most frequent causes of injury death. And while many would say such deaths are often accidental, others disagree, arguing that someone or something created the environment that made the injury possible.

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