Advancing the right to health: a sound legal perspective by WHO!

A trusted legal analysis: WHO's input to the health law debate


The debate around the “right to health” is a convoluted one, at the crossing of policy advocacy and the reality of complex branches of public law. It does indeed require knowledge as well as an understanding of public international law, constitutional law and administrative law in particular, but also the capacity of drawing from a variety of legal systems such as civil or common law systems.


Famous British lawyer Stanley De Smith once summarised the issue, writing “the state of the law is elusive and fluid” requiring prudent “perhaps” rather than certitudes. Such a difficult and contentious issue as the right to health calls for a subtle and expert approach.


This is what this publication offers: a methodical perspective to comprehend what falls into the concept of “right to health” which often, despite being enshrined in constitutional provisions, can boil down to a duty for public authorities to grant a certain access to care to the population, or a duty to provide a combination of public service in areas pertaining to health (or impacting populations’ health) such as water and sanitation.


Advancing the right to health: The vital role of law not only delves into the useful hierarchy of normative instruments, i.e. the rule of law that can help promote and secure health; it demonstrates a rare understanding of the scarcity of legally binding instruments at the international level.


At a time of extreme confusion where provisions of international declarations are mistaken for law or conversely where legally binding provisions of treaties and other multilateral legal instruments misinterpreted, one cannot recommend enough this publication which has not been surpassed in the field of health law: it brings clarity, a practical analysis underpinned by legal insight and experience.


In a nutshell: if you are interested in health law and fathoming the concept of “right to health” this is a must read! Find “Advancing the right to health: The vital role of law” attached to this article or Click here for downloading it on WHO’s website.


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