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Posts Tagged ‘human rights’

Framing Global Health and Foreign Policy

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
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typeIn Globalization and Health—an online, peer-reviewed journal—Ronald Labonté and Michelle Gagnon wrote a paper exploring how health has become a prominent global policy agenda in the last decade titled, “Framing health and foreign policy: lessons for global health diplomacy.”  They argue that the rise of global health policy has been accompanied by the new concept of global health diplomacy (GHD), defined as “the processes by which government, multilateral and civil society actors attempt to position health in foreign policy negotiations and to create new forms of global health governance.” This article addresses two overarching questions:

1. What arguments have been advanced by governments to position global health more prominently in foreign policy deliberations?

2. How does their policy framing relate to their potential to improve global health equity?

To answer these questions and determine how global health fits into a broader foreign policy landscape, Labonté and Gagnon present six policy frames: security, development, global public goods, trade, human rights and ethical/moral reasoning. These differing policy frames offer multiple rationales for elevating global health issues in foreign policy debates.

Be sure to read the full article here exploring the framing of health and foreign policy and see key excerpts below:

“Initial findings support conventional international relations theory that most states, even when committed to health as a foreign policy goal, still make decisions primarily on the basis of the ‘high politics’ of national security and economic material interests. Development, human rights and ethical/moral arguments for global health assistance, the traditional ‘low politics’ of foreign policy, are present in discourse but do not appear to dominate practice.”

“There remains some cause for optimism that global health will retain and perhaps strengthen its prominence in foreign policy. Spain, during its EU presidency in the first half of 2010, focused on issues of global health equity, coherence and knowledge. The WHO continues to emphasize the health risks of unregulated global financial markets while strengthening the knowledge and practice base for global health diplomacy. The transition from the G8 to the G20 (while still fraught with issues of economic elitism in global governance) incorporates some countries with stronger histories of rights-based approaches to health.”

“Global health has yet to demonstrate any revolutionary shift in foreign policy drivers, to the extent that the different discursive framings for global health create an enlarged space for debate, an opening exists for global health equity to become more central in foreign policy deliberations. This challenges global health diplomats to strengthen the force of some of their arguments…primarily in introducing human rights and ethical norms into foreign policy debate.”

Do you think the Obama administration’s Global Health Initiative (GHI) aligns with the concept of global health diplomacy? Let us know in comments below.

President Obama’s State of the Union Address

Thursday, January 28th, 2010
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Obama State of the UnionIn his first State of the Union address last night, President Obama alluded to his campaign pledge to “strengthen our common security by investing in our common humanity.”  See excerpts from his speech below:

“That is the leadership that we are providing — engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We are working through the G-20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We are working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science, education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We are helping developing countries to feed themselves and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or an infectious disease — a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad.”

“As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That is why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. That is why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan, we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran, and we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity.”

Read the full text of his speech here.

Secretary Clinton: “…democracy and development are not three separate goals”

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
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At Georgetown University on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech about human rights, in which she outlined the President’s agenda for a new century.  She connected such universal rights to development, noting that hunger, poverty, and education are all freedoms that everyone worldwide should have access to.  Key excerpts below:

Clinton at Georgtown

“Our human rights agenda for the 21st century is to make human rights a human reality, and the first step is to see human rights in a broad context. Of course, people must be free from the oppression of tyranny, from torture, from discrimination, from the fear of leaders who will imprison or “disappear” them. But they also must be free from the oppression of want – want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact.”

“To fulfill their potential, people must be free to choose laws and leaders; to share and access information, to speak, criticize, and debate. They must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose. And they must be free to pursue the dignity that comes with self-improvement and self-reliance, to build their minds and their skills, to bring their goods to the marketplace, and participate in the process of innovation. Human rights have both negative and positive requirements. People should be free from tyranny in whatever form, and they should also be free to seize the opportunities of a full life. That is why supporting democracy and fostering development are cornerstones of our 21st century human rights agenda.”


“At the same time, human development must also be part of our human rights agenda. Because basic levels of well-being – food, shelter, health, and education – and of public common goods like environmental sustainability, protection against pandemic disease, provisions for refugees – are necessary for people to exercise their rights, and because human development and democracy are mutually reinforcing. Democratic governments are not likely to survive long if their citizens do not have the basic necessities of life. The desperation caused by poverty and disease often leads to violence that further imperils the rights of people and threatens the stability of governments. Democracies that deliver on rights, opportunities, and development for their people are stable, strong, and most likely to enable people to live up to their potential.”

“So human rights, democracy, and development are not three separate goals with three separate agendas. That view doesn’t reflect the reality we face. To make a real and long-term difference in people’s lives, we have to tackle all three simultaneously with a commitment that is smart, strategic, determined, and long-term. We should measure our success by asking this question: Are more people in more places better able to exercise their universal rights and live up to their potential because of our actions?”


“Across our diplomacy and development efforts, we keep striving for innovative ways to achieve results. That’s why I commissioned the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to develop a forward-looking strategy built on analysis of our objectives, our challenges, our tools, and our capacities to achieve America’s foreign policy and national security objectives. And make no mistake, issues of Democracy and Governance – D&G as they are called at USAID – are central to this review.”

“To build success for the long run, our development assistance needs to be as effective as possible at delivering results and paving the way for broad-based growth and long-term self-reliance. Beyond giving people the capacity to meet their material needs for today, economic empowerment should give them a stake in securing their own futures, in seeing their societies become the kind of democracies that protect rights and govern fairly. So we will pursue a rights-respecting approach to development – consulting with local communities, ensuring transparency, midwife-ing accountable institutions – so our development activities act in concert with our efforts to support democratic governance. That is the pressing challenge we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.”