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International norms recognize the special value of health. The WHO Constitution states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health” is a fundamental human right. The right to health, moreover, is a treaty obligation with clear obligations. Despite robust international norms, unconscionable health disparities exist between the world’s rich and poor, causing enormous suffering. The WHO urges “closing the health gap in a generation” through action on the social determinants of health. As the Marmot Commission observed: “the social conditions in which people are born, live, and work are the single most important determinant of good or ill health.” If the health gap is unfair and unacceptable, then how can the international community be galvanized to make a genuine difference? This commentary proposes an international call to action through a Global Plan for Justice—a voluntary compact among states and their partners. For a fuller examination of the Global Plan for Justice (GPJ), see Lawrence O. Gostin, Redressing the Unconscionable Health Gap: A Global Plan for Justice, 4 HARV. L. & POL’Y REV. 271 (2010), available at For an explanation of how the GPJ fits into other innovative Global Health Governance strategies, see and (explaining the progression from a Joint Learning Initiative for National and Global Responsibilities for Health, to a Global Plan for Justice, through to a Framework Convention on Global Health). See also, Lawrence O. Gostin, Meeting Basic Survival Needs of the World’s Least Healthy People: Toward a Framework Convention on Global Health, 96 GEO. L.J. 331 (2008),,

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375 The Lancet 1504-1505 (2010)