Organizations, partnerships, and alliances form the building blocks of global governance. Global health organizations thus have the potential to play a formative role in determining the extent to which people are able to realize their right to health.
This article examines how major global health organizations, such as WHO, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, UNAIDS, and GAVI approach human rights concerns, including equality, accountability, and inclusive participation. We argue that organizational support for the right to health must transition from ad hoc and partial to permanent and comprehensive.
Drawing on the literature and our knowledge of global health organizations, we offer good practices that point to ways in which such agencies can advance the right to health, covering nine areas: 1) participation and representation in governance processes; 2) leadership and organizational ethos; 3) internal policies; 4) norm-setting and promotion; 5) organizational leadership through advocacy and communication; 6) monitoring and accountability; 7) capacity building; 8) funding policies; and 9) partnerships and engagement. In each of these areas, we offer elements of a proposed Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH), which would commit state parties to support these standards through their board membership and other interactions with these agencies. We also explain how the FCGH could incorporate these organizations into its overall financing framework, initiate a new forum where they collaborate with each other, as well as organizations in other regimes, to advance the right to health, and ensure sufficient funding for right to health capacity building.
We urge major global health organizations to follow the leadership of the UN Secretary-General and UNAIDS to champion the FCGH. It is only through a rights-based approach, enshrined in a new Convention, that we can expect to achieve health for all in our lifetimes.