The International Human Right to Health

22 Southern U. L. Rev. 1-68 (1994)
Steven D. Jamar
Professor of Law, Director, Legal Reasoning, Research, and Writing Program
Howard University School of Law
Washington, DC, USA


This article examines the sources of the human right to health and traces the contours of it. It seeks to develop a standard against which conduct of states can be measured. The author articulates two standards. One is the aspirational, political version of the right under which the state is to do what it can do to advance the health of the people. The other is a narrowly defined right which can be enforced in court. This narrowly defined right includes both a negative aspect (the state must refrain from doing things which negatively affect the health of the people) and an affirmative aspect. The affirmative right is that the right to health imposes a duty on a state to intervene or to act, to the extent of its available resources, to prevent or reduce or address serious threats to the health of individuals or the population. (68 pages)