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The place of human rights and the common good in global health policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

John Tasioulas, Effy Vayena

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-382
Number of pages18
JournalTHEORETICAL MEDICINE AND BIOETHICS
Volume37
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2016

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Abstract

This article offers an integrated account of two strands of global health justice: health-related human rights and health-related common goods. After sketching a general understanding of the nature of human rights, it proceeds to explain both how individual human rights are to be individuated and the content of their associated obligations specified. With respect to both issues, the human right to health is taken as the primary illustration. It is argued that (1) the individuation of the right to health is fixed by reference to the subject matter of its corresponding obligations, and not by the interests it serves, and (2) the specification of the content of that right must be properly responsive to thresholds of possibility and burden. The article concludes by insisting that human rights cannot constitute the whole of global health justice and that, in addition, other considerations—including the promotion of health-related global public goods—should also shape such policy. Moreover, the relationship between human rights and common goods should not be conceived as mutually exclusive. On the contrary, there sometimes exists an individual right to some aspect of a common good, including a right to benefit from health-related common goods such as programmes for securing herd immunity from diphtheria.

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