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Advancing Health Equity in the Global Marketplace: How human rights can help

Schrecker, Ted; Chapman, Audrey; Labonté, Ronald; De Vogli, Roberto

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Ted Schrecker

Audrey Chapman

Ronald Labonté

Roberto De Vogli


The WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) ascribed health disparities within and between countries to “a toxic combination of poor social policies and programmes, unfair economic arrangements, and bad politics.” This article analyzes the relevance of the international human rights framework (IHRF) to the Commission’s goal of reducing health disparities with reference to both social scientific and legal scholarship. We begin with an overview of the IHRF, demonstrating its potential as a challenge to the normative foundations of the emerging global economic order. We then survey the research literature on mechanisms to ensure accountability for realization of health-related rights, emphasizing the potential effectiveness of making human rights enforceable through the courts, and the special need for mechanisms to hold countries and international institutions accountable for obligations related to the human right to health. We conclude by identifying three key directions for further research, policy and advocacy: comparative human rights litigation, specifically the willingness of courts to address broad policy and budgetary issues; the conditions under which governments legislate or constitutionalize economic and social rights; and how rich, powerful countries affect economic and social rights outside their borders.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 1, 2010
Deposit Date Jun 4, 2013
Publicly Available Date Jul 10, 2013
Journal Social science and medicine
Print ISSN 0277-9536
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 71
Issue 8
Pages 1520-1526
Keywords Globalization, Neoliberalism, Human rights, Social determinants of health, Social policy.
Public URL


Accepted Journal Article (119 Kb)

Copyright Statement
NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Social science & medicine. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Social science & medicine, 71, 8, 2010, 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.06.042

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