Global health justice and the right to health

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This paper reflects on Lawrence Gostin’s Global Health Law. In so doing seeks to contribute to the debate about how global health justice is best conceived and achieved. Gostin’s vision of global health is one which is communal and in which health is directly connected to other justice concerns. Hence the need for health-in-all policies, and the importance of focusing on basic and communal health goods rather than high-tech and individual ones. This paper asks whether this broadly communal vision of global health justice is best served by making the right to health central to the project. It explores a number of reasons why rights-talk might be problematic in the context of health justice; namely, structurally, rights are individual and state-centric and politically, they are oppositional and better suited to single-issue campaigns. The paper argues that stripping rights of their individualist assumptions is difficult, and perhaps impossible, and hence alternative approaches, such as those Gostin endorses based on global public goods and health security, might deliver much, perhaps most, global health goods, while avoiding the problems of rights-talk.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-400
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Care Analysis
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • rights
  • health
  • global public goods
  • security
  • individualism
  • collective rights
  • justice


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