All issues publish general papers in addition to Special Sections.
Deepening the Relationship between Human Rights and the Social Determinants of Health: A Focus on Indivisibility and Power
Guest Editors: Lisa Forman, Kristi Heather Kenyon, and Claire E. Brolan
The link between human rights and the social determinants of health was made explicit in the seminal 2009 report of the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) that defined the imperative to work in this field as a matter of social justice, the absence of which was “killing people on a grand scale.” This tantalizing link to human rights prompted the Health and Human Rights Journal special issue in 2010 exploring convergences and disjunctures between different approaches to the social determinants of health, particularly social medicine, social epidemiology, and human rights. Since that time, there have been global policy initiatives from the 2011 Rio Declaration on the Social Determinants of Health to the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to advance the social determinants of health globally and do so in discourse explicitly and implicitly rooted in human rights and the right to health.
Yet beyond rhetorical convergence, how far have we advanced in understanding the intersections between human rights and the social determinants of health, eight years since the CSDH and seven years since this first special issue? This special section of the Journal call for papers to deepen exploration of the relationship in theory and practice between human rights and the social determinants of health. This special section will build on ideas coming out of a rich discussion among leading scholars and practitioners in this field at an international conference held in May 2017 at the University of Toronto, opened by a special keynote address on health and human rights by Professor Amartya Sen, generously sponsored by the Lupina Foundation, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health and the Canada Research Chair Program. Drawing from Professor Sen’s capabilities approach which considers the societal conditions in which individuals can become active agents of change rather than ‘passive recipients of dispensed benefits,’ participants identified two key areas that are particularly in need of deeper scholarly and practitioner engagement, and which we are using to anchor this special issue:
- How can we advance understanding and implementation of the indivisibility of human rights in relation to the social determinants of health, theoretically and practically? And what does this mean for work on the social determinants of health?
- How do we move beyond calling for access to health and related services, to working for policy on the social determinants of health to realize the fuller vision of dignity and equal worth underpinning human rights, with health understood not simply as the absence of disease but as physical, mental, emotional, social and cultural wellbeing? Could this full vision of human rights provide an alternative conceptualization of the social determinants of health: not simply of what we provide but how, through process-oriented, agency-based empowerment that broadens the scope of health interventions?
- How does social science research on the social determinants of health in areas beyond social medicine and social epidemiology, such as intersectionality, anthropology, sociology, communications, and political science, help build the concept of the indivisibility of human rights into a richer operational concept in relation to the social determinants of health?
- How can we build an evidence base to buttress the interdependence of human rights and the social determinants of health? How can we move beyond legal rhetoric to concrete evidence showing how systematic attention to rights can promote population health? Moreover, which disciplines and institutions get to decide what constitutes such evidence?
- How can we better respond to the social, political, economic, and cultural power imbalances that constitute some of structural determinants of health?
- How can the human rights community better focus on the structural drivers of health, including neoliberal policies that impact realization of the right to health and systematically enacted power differentials around race, gender, sexuality, disability, and ethnicity.
- How can human rights practitioners and health workers be more attentive to the way power consciously and unconsciously shapes both the definition and realization of human rights and the social determinants of health?
- How does power influence the full vision of human rights as incorporating social, economic, civil, and cultural domains?
In sum, we invite papers that expand on the theoretical and evidence-based links between human rights and the social determinants of health, and that deepen our understanding of the constitutive role of power in the broader determination of health. We particularly encourage interdisciplinary contributions. Papers investigating other underexplored aspects of the relationship between human rights and the social determinants of health will also be considered for inclusion.
Papers must be submitted by 3 April 2018
Papers have a maximum word length of 7,000 words, including references.
Author guidelines are available on the website: http://www.hhrjournal.org/submissions/author-guidelines/.
Questions about this special section can be directed to Lisa Forman, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Carmel Williams, Executive Editor, Health and Human Rights Journal at HHRsubmissions@hsph.harvard.edu
Guest Editors: Rachel Hall-Clifford, David Addiss, Robert Cook-Deegan, and James Lavery
Ethical challenges abound in global health fieldwork, from various types of physical hardship and risk for researchers, program staff, and host community partners, to deeply challenging moral and cultural ambiguities and wholesale moral dilemmas. Global health “fieldwork” generally refers to the activities undertaken by researchers or program implementers in collaboration with host country partners. Ethical challenges in fieldwork usually trace back to vast asymmetries in health, wealth and power between guest and host countries and the complex relational dynamics these entail. These dynamics may be strained by limited resources and by tensions between the programmatic objectives of global health donors and the priorities of host communities’ limited resources and weak health systems. And they may be severely tested in contexts with high rates of human rights abuses.
To a large extent, the risks and ethical challenges of global health fieldwork remain hidden from our discourse and unacknowledged in the academic literature. They are far more likely to be discussed at the bar with colleagues at the end of a global health conference than during the conference itself. Fieldworkers may have little preparation and inadequate training for the ethical challenges they encounter. And often the skills required to navigate these challenges effectively are learned through traumatic personal experience, rather than through systematic institutional learning and effective pedagogy. Our silence on these challenges effectively relegates responsibility for dealing with them to fieldworkers, to the extent they are capable and inclined.
In this Special Section, we seek to examine ethical challenges in global health fieldwork and to explore their connections to global health ethics, research ethics, and human rights. The Special Section will address how the realities of fieldwork shape and expand our knowledge in global health, affect the performance and outcomes of global health programs, and challenge global health values, including the realization of the right to health. It will consider how fieldwork ethics can be more consistently integrated into global health training and discourse, and into research ethics review and oversight.
Specific topics for this special section may include global health fieldwork in contexts of conflict, human rights abuses, or environmental crises; gender-based violence; managing tensions between priorities of global programs and local communities; responsibility of international fieldworkers and organizations for unintended consequences of their programs and personal actions; ethical blind spots; the ethics of global health communications, images, and publication; recovering the human dimension in global health fieldwork; obligations beyond individual research participants in global health research, and the often hidden influence of these challenges on scientific data and their interpretation.
Authors are especially encouraged to reflect on their particular experiences and relate these to the broader dimensions of global health fieldwork ethics and human rights.
We welcome perspective essays (up to 3500 words) from students reflecting on their experiences as students undertaking global health or medical fieldwork. These essays can address the potential topics suggested above, as well as more specific matters arising from the added complexities of undertaking fieldwork for course credits, or as volunteers, and with limited training or professional experience. Where appropriate, joint essays with faculty, staff, or fieldwork supervisors are also invited. Students may submit full academic papers (up to 7000 words) incorporating research results as well as reflections on ethical components of their fieldwork experience.
The special section will be edited by Rachel Hall-Clifford, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Public Health at Agnes Scott College; David Addiss, Director of the Focus Area for Compassion and Ethics at The Task Force for Global Health; Robert Cook-Deegan, Professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University; and James Lavery, Conrad N. Hilton Chair in Global Health Ethics and Professor in the Hubert Department of Global Health in the Rollins School of Public Health and Center for Ethics at Emory University.
- Papers must be submitted by 31 October 2018
- Papers for this issue should have a word length between 4000 and 7000 words, including references.
- Perspective essays of between 2000-3500 words including references are also welcome.
- Author guidelines are available on the website: http://www.hhrjournal.org/submissions/author-guidelines/.
Questions about this special section can be directed to Guest Editor Rachel Hall-Clifford at email@example.com or Carmel Williams, Executive Editor, Health and Human Rights Journal at HHRsubmissions@hsph.harvard.edu
Photo by Angela Duger