The Joint Action and Learning Initiative: Towards a Global Agreement on National and Global Responsibilities for Health

Lawrence O. Gostin, Georgetown University Law Center
Eric A. Friedman, Georgetown University Law Center
Gorik Ooms, Institute of Tropical Medicine
Thomas Gebauer, Medico International
Narendra Gupta, Prayas Chittorgarh
Devi Sridhar, University of Oxford
Wang Chenguang, Tsinghua University
John-Arne Røttingen, Norwegian Knowledge Center for the Health Services
David Sanders, School of Public Health, University of the Western Cape

This Faculty Publication has been updated and posted within the Georgetown Law O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law series in the Scholarly Commons. It is currently available at


A coalition of civil society organizations and academics is initiating a Joint Action and Learning Initiative on National and Global Responsibilities for Health (JALI) to research key conceptual questions involving health rights and responsibilities, with the goal of securing a global health agreement and supporting civil society and community mobilization around the human right to health. The social mobilization is critical to creating the political space that would make such an agreement possible and to ensuring its implementation.

This agreement, such as a Framework Convention on Global Health, would inform post-Millennium Development Goal global health commitments, be grounded in the right to health, help resolve unconscionable global health inequities, and ensure universal health coverage. Mutual benefits to countries in the Global South and North would come from a global health agreement that defines national and global health responsibilities, while the agreement would respond to growing demands for accountability.

Using broad partnerships and an inclusive consultation process, JALI seeks to clarify the health services to which everyone is entitled under the right to health, the national and global responsibilities for securing this right, and global governance structures that can realize these responsibilities and close major health inequities. This article addresses key points in each of these areas, including how the right to health provides critical insights into how countries implement universal health coverage.