FCGH: Addressing Frequently Raised Issues

FCGH IssuesThe Framework Convention on Global Health: Addressing Frequently Raised Issues

May 2016
Issues in this article:
1 The FCGH can build on existing treaties that codify the right to health to better implement rights-based approaches to health;
2 The value of the FCGH as a binding legal instrument;
3 The FCGH could complement other tools to address systematic governance issues;
4 The feasibility of the FCGH;
5 The need for an ambitious treaty;
6 Connections between the FCGH and other international law;
7 The FCGH would add to the current response to global health priorities;
8 The FCGH would build on and relate to existing accountability mechanisms, particularly human rights and SDG accountability mechanisms, and would include measures to help achieve impact at country level;
9 Possible FCGH mechanisms and institutional set-up;
10 Models of treaties that the FCGH could draw from.

The FCGH can build on existing treaties that codify the right to health to better implement rights-based approaches to health.

The FCGH intends to complement and reinforce strategies and tools to implement the right to health, not replace them. The FCGH could open new possibilities to advancing the right to health and speeding its implementation, and by so doing, closing unconscionable gaps in national and global health equity by:

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WHO DG’s highest priority: a Global Treaty on the Right to Health

PriorityThe next WHO Director-General’s highest priority: a Global Treaty on the Human Right to Health

(From The Lancet, 13.10.2016)   The next WHO Director-General faces major challenges:1 operational responsibilities for epidemic response, universal health coverage (UHC), and the rise of non- communicable diseases. Given the vast gap between daunting health challenges and WHO funding, what should be the Director-General’s foremost priority? The answer lies in the organisation’s main constitutional pillar, the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of health. WHO’s next leader should bring human rights to the forefront, ensuring the universal right to health.

A Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH)2— supported by civil society and global leaders3—should become the centrepiece of this endeavour (panel). It would reform global governance for health to enhance accountability, transparency, and civil society participation and protect the right to health in trade, investment, climate change, and other international regimes, while catalysing governments to institutionalise the right to health at community through to national levels. It would usher in a new era of global health with justice—vast improvements in health outcomes, equitably distributed.4

National and global systems today suffer from pervasive structural deficiencies, making them incapable of achieving global health with justice. These structures enable inequities to persist, fail to ensure accountability, and permit health and non-health sectors to undermine the right to health.

Vast disparities in wealth and political power leave countries and marginalised populations with far worse health outcomes than in wealthier states and among well-off populations. Income inequality and global threats (eg, climate change, mass migrations) risk worsening disparities. Legal frameworks and social practices perpetuate marginalisation of women, immigrants, indigenous people, and ethnic and sexual minorities. Yet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) do not adequately prioritise marginalised populations. WHO’s new Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors5 fails to empower civil society to effectively participate in the organisation’s governance.

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Towards a FCGH: A Transformative Agenda for Global Health Justice

FCGHTowards a Framework Convention on Global Health: A Transformative Agenda for Global Health Justice *

Lawrence O. Gostin** & Eric A. Friedman***

ABSTRACT:
Global health inequities cause nearly 20 million deaths annually, mostly among the world’s poor. Yet international law currently does little to reduce the massive inequalities that underlie these deaths. This Article offers the first systematic account of the goals and justifications, normative foundations, and potential construction of a proposed new global health treaty, a Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), grounded in the human right to health. Already endorsed by the United Nations Secretary-General, the FCGH would reimagine global governance for health, offering a new, post-Millennium Development Goals vision. A global coalition of civil society and academics has formed the Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health (JALI) to advance the FCGH.

* Professor Lawrence 0. Gostin and Mr. Eric A. Friedman are members of the Steering Committee of the Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health (JALI). JALI is an international campaign, comprised of civil society and academic leaders, from the global South and North, dedicated to establishing a Framework Convention on Global Health. This framework convention would serve as a historic, innovative treaty on global health equity. This Article offers the first detailed account of the treaty’s mission, norms, and processes, together with a systematic justification for a radically new form of global governance for health.

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