The Proliferation of Human Rights in Global Health Governance

34 Pages Posted: 19 Feb 2008

See all articles by Lance Gable

Lance Gable

Wayne State University Law School


Human rights play an integral, and perhaps under appreciated, role in the global governance of health. Indeed, the continued proliferation of human rights in many settings has resulted in the expanded application of human rights in global health governance. In the context of global health, governance involves the structural and normative aspects of managing the determinants and outcomes of global health.

The existing structural and normative components of human rights have continually evolved over time, resulting in a broader and more expansive conception of human rights as applied to health, particularly when compared with older understandings. More recently, however, the application of human rights to health has begun to proliferate at an even greater rate across multiple levels and within multiple contexts. Human rights proliferation is likely to have a positive impact on the governance of global health because it can expand the avenues through which a human rights framework or human rights norms may be used to address and improve health.

This article first describes two types of governance where health and human rights overlap in multiple systems and contexts around the world. Next, the article uses a case study to assess the structural and normative proliferation of human rights in the context of the new United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Finally, I offer several observations about the potential implications of human rights proliferation on the future of global health governance, while recognizing the inherent interdependency of approaches to governance.

Suggested Citation

Gable, Lance, The Proliferation of Human Rights in Global Health Governance. Wayne State University Law School Research Paper No. 08-07, Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 35, No. 534, 2007, Available at SSRN:

Lance Gable (Contact Author)

Wayne State University Law School ( email )

471 Palmer
Detroit, MI 48202
United States

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