Richard Elliott

North America (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network)

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Richard Elliott is a lawyer and the executive director since 2007 of the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, a non-governmental organization engaged in research, education and advocacy on human rights issues related to HIV, including harm reduction and drug policy. Before joining the Legal Network staff in 1999, he was as a civil litigator in private practice. He has appeared before all levels of Ontario courts and the Supreme Court of Canada, and has helped guide the Legal Network’s litigation in key HIV-related court cases in Canada (including on drug policy issues) as well as internationally (from cases on harm reduction before the European Court of Human Rights to cases regarding decriminalization and freedom of expression for LGBT people in Jamaica).

Richard has coordinated student legal aid services for low-income people living with HIV, served on the boards of various HIV and/or human rights organizations, including the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) and the Prisoners’ HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN), and co-founded and chaired a local Amnesty International group in Toronto advocating for the rights of sexual minorities.

He is a member of the International Advisory Committee of the International Centre for Human Rights and Drug Policy, has attended several sessions of the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, and has conducted research and advocacy for the rights of people who use drugs and for drug policy reform for twenty years. Between 2001 and 2007, he was a member of the Ministerial Council on HIV/AIDS (the advisory body to Canada’s Minister of Health).

In 2010–2011 he served as a member of the Technical Advisory Group of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law, and he currently serves on the Expert Advisory Group to the UN Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines. Richard is also a founding member of the Global Treatment Access Group (GTAG), an affiliation of Canadian civil society organizations advocating for access to medicines and other aspects of the human right to health in developing countries. In addition to appearing frequently in the media as an expert and advocate on HIV and human rights, he has authored numerous reports, papers and articles on a range of such issues, appeared before legislative committees, served as an expert resource and consultant to UN agencies, taught or lectured at several law schools, and presented extensively on HIV and human rights across Canada and internationally.

Richard holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Economics and Philosophy from Queen’s University (1992), and both a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B., 1995) and Master of Laws (LL.M., 2006) from Osgoode Hall Law School (York University). He was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1997. In 2012, he received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to the advancement of human rights related to HIV.

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