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This article introduces a special issue of Health and Human Rights (volume 15, issue 1) that features articles exploring potential elements of and key questions and issues surrounding the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH). The FCGH is a proposed global health treaty that would be grounded in the right to health, with the aim of closing domestic and global health inequities. It would set standards and ensure financing for health care and public health services, while also addressing social determinants of health. The FCGH would raise the priority of health in other sectors, ensure effective private sector regulation, and incorporate community engagement and special measures to support the needs and rights of marginalized populations. It would include a robust regime of monitoring and enforcement, one that balances global standards with national ownership and initiative.

Articles in this special issue can be clustered around three topics. First, several address accountability for realizing the right to health, including through a proposed judicial mechanism based on the Latin American experience, utilizing human rights bodies and responding to the interdependent nature of all human rights, clarifying right to health responsibilities of pharmaceutical companies with respect to access to medicines, and addressing traditional medicines. Second, two articles address global health funding and governance. One proposes an umbrella mechanism to develop common standards for all financing mechanisms, and the other proposes right to health-based standards for global health organizations, including addressing for their interactions with other sectors and potential for right to health capacity building. And third, several articles explore the role of the FCGH in social mobilization, including its potential to support HIV/AIDS advocates and several specific ways the treaty could mitigate threats to continue progress of the HIV movement. Another of these articles emphasizes the importance of the process towards an FCGH being one that facilities popular mobilization around the right to health. In addition, an opening editorial to the special issue highlights the value of a treaty with an all-encompassing goal of the right to health and health equity, while a final article offers several risks to the FCGH that must be considered.

Finally, we emphasize that the critical thinking and robust debates about the FCGH and how it can best ensure the right to health must continue. The process of developing the treaty must give voice above all to marginalized populations, who suffer most from the health inequities that the FCGH is intended to redress.

Publication Citation

15 Health & Hum. Rts. 1-4 (2013)