Lawrence O. Gostin, Georgetown University Law CenterFollow
John T. Monahan, Office of the President, Georgetown UniversityFollow
Jenny Kaldor, School of Law, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia
Mary DeBartolo, Northwestern Memorial Healthcare
Eric A. Friedman, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law CenterFollow
Katie Gottschalk, O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University Law CenterFollow
Susan C. Kim, Center for Global Health Practice and Impact, Georgetown University Law CenterFollow
Ala Alwan, Health and Environment, Government of Iraq, Baghdad, Iraq
Agnes Binagwaho, University of Global Health Equity, Kigali, Rwanda
Gian Luca Burci, Global Health Centre, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS, Geneva, Switzerland
Katherine DeLand, DeLand Associates LLC, Geneva, Switzerland
Timothy Grant Evans, Health, Nutrition and Population Global Practice, World Bank Group
Eric Goosby, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco
Sara Hossain, Supreme Court of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Howard Koh, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Gorik Ooms, Global Health and Development, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Mirta Roses Periago, National Academy of Sciences of Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Rodrigo Uprimny, Dejusticia, Bogota, Colombia
Alicia E. Yamin, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics at Harvard Law School

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Health risks in the 21st century are beyond the control of any country. In an era of globalization, promoting public health and equity requires cooperation and coordination both within and among states. Law can be a powerful tool for advancing global health, yet it remains significantly underutilised and poorly understood. Working in partnership, public health lawyers and health professionals can become champions for evidence-based laws to ensure the public’s health and safety.

The O'Neill Institute/Georgetown University Lancet Commission on Law and Global Health articulates the vital role of law – through legal instruments, legal capacities, and institutional reforms, as well as the rule of law – to achieve global health with justice. Our report is structured around four “legal determinants of health,” each of which powerfully affects health outcomes. We coin the term legal determinants of health because it demonstrates law’s power to address the underlying social and economic causes of injury and disease. The four legal determinants, together with key recommendations, are:

  1. Law can translate vision into action on sustainable development.
  2. Law can strengthen the governance of national and global health institutions.
  3. Law can implement fair, evidence-based health interventions.
  4. Building legal capacities for health. Strong legal capacities are a key determinant of progress towards global health and sustainable development.

By providing insight on the legal determinants of health, our aim is to empower the global health community to strengthen its legal capacity, and to use law more strategically in the pursuit of health and equity.

Publication Citation

The Lancet Commissions, Vol. 393, Issue 10183, 1857-1910.