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Normative Foundations of Global Health Law


Jennifer Prah Ruger


University of Pennsylvania


Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 96, pp. 423-43, 2008

Abstract:     
This Essay offers a normative theory of global health law. It builds on a theory of health and social justice I have long been developing and extends this theory in evaluating the role of international law in health. This theory takes human flourishing as the end goal of a global society and proposes that global health law be examined in terms of an ethical demand for health equity. This ethical demand will likely require legal instruments for realization, but it will also require individuals, states, and nonstate actors to internalize public ethical norms in support of global health goals. This Essay also argues that global health law should be examined in the contexts of international relations and global public policy and that law and policy should be linked at the global and domestic levels. Philosophical underpinnings of global health law cannot be studied separately from other global and domestic tools to reach global health equity.

This Essay comprises three parts. Part I offers normative foundations for the future of global health law and presents a theory of global health equity. Part II analyzes the role of global health law in achieving health equity, examines the effectiveness and limits of international health law, and considers the conditions necessary for the effectiveness of global health law. Part III offers an analysis of global health law vis-à-vis domestic health law and policy. The Essay concludes by arguing that solutions to global health disparities and externalities require more than international treaties, conventions, and recommendations. They require domestic health policy, law, and institutional reforms establishing sustainable, government-sponsored health systems, including universal health insurance and public-health and health-care infrastructures. Thus, the success and future of global heath law depend as much on domestic health policy and law as they do on international health law itself.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 21

Keywords: global health law, international health, health equity

JEL Classification: I10, I11, I18

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Date posted: October 28, 2007 ; Last revised: February 19, 2008

Suggested Citation

Ruger, Jennifer Prah, Normative Foundations of Global Health Law. Georgetown Law Journal, Vol. 96, pp. 423-43, 2008. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1024781

Contact Information

Jennifer Prah Ruger (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania ( email )
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States
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