Eric A. Friedman and Lawrence O. Gostin
Health and Human Rights 14/1
Published June 2012
Ever more constitutions incorporate the right to health, courts continue to expand their right to health jurisprudence, and communities and civil society increasingly turn to the right to health in their advocacy. Yet the right remains far from being realized. Even with steady progress on numerous fronts of global health, vast inequities at the global and national levels persist, and are responsible for millions of deaths annually. We propose a four-part approach to accelerating progress towards fulfilling the right to health: 1) national legal and policy reform, incorporating right to health obligations and principles including equity, participation, and accountability in designing, implementing, and monitoring the health sector, as well as an all-of-government approach in advancing the public’s health; 2) litigation, using creative legal strategies, enhanced training, and promotion of progressive judgments to increase courts’ effectiveness in advancing the right to health; 3) civil society and community engagement, empowering communities to understand and claim this right and building the capacity of right to health organizations; and 4) innovative global governance for health, strengthening World Health Organization leadership on health and human rights, further clarifying the international right to health, ensuring sustained and scalable development assistance, and conforming other international legal regimes (e.g., trade, intellectual property, and finance) to health and human rights norms. We offer specific steps to advance each of these areas, including how a new global health treaty, a Framework Convention on Global Health, could help construct these four pillars.