Under the (legal) radar screen: global health initiatives and international human rights obligations

R. Hammonds, G. Ooms, W. Vandenhole

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

14 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Given that many low income countries are heavily reliant on external assistance to fund their health sectors the acceptance of obligations of international assistance and cooperation with regard to the right to health (global health obligations) is insufficiently understood and studied by international health and human rights scholars. Over the past decade Global Health Initiatives, like the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) have adopted novel approaches to engaging with stakeholders in high and low income countries. This article explores how this experience impacted on acceptance of the international obligation to (help) fulfil the right to health beyond borders. METHODS: The authors conducted an extensive review of international human rights law literature, transnational legal process literature, global public health literature and grey literature pertaining to Global Health Initiatives. To complement this desk work and deepen their understanding of how and why different legal norms evolve the authors conducted 19 in-depth key informant interviews with actors engaged with three stakeholders; the European Union, the United States and Belgium. The authors then analysed the interviews through a transnational legal process lens. RESULTS: Through according value to the process of examining how and why different legal norms evolve transnational legal process offers us a tool for engaging with the dynamism of developments in global health suggesting that operationalising global health obligations could advance the right to health for all. CONCLUSIONS: In many low-income countries the health sector is heavily dependent on external assistance to fulfil the right to health of people thus it is vital that policies and tools for delivering reliable, long-term assistance are developed so that the right to health for all becomes more than a dream. Our research suggests that the Global Fund experience offers lessons to build on.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC International Health and Human Rights
Pages (from-to)31
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Human rights
  • Legal aspects
  • Legislation
  • Global health
  • Health for all
  • International initiatives
  • International collaboration
  • Global Fund
  • Acceptability
  • Developing countries
  • Developed countries
  • Review of the literature


Dive into the research topics of 'Under the (legal) radar screen: global health initiatives and international human rights obligations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this