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The Right to Health in International Law$
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John Tobin

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199603299

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199603299.001.0001

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Charting the History of the Right to Health

Charting the History of the Right to Health

1 Charting the History of the Right to Health
The Right to Health in International Law

John Tobin

Oxford University Press

This chapter aims to reveal some insights into the factors that motivated the adoption of the right to health in international law and the anticipated consequences for states in accepting such a right. It offers a chronological overview of the emergence of the normative expression of the right to health in various international and regional legal instruments, and traces the complex factors that led to the inclusion of the right to health in international law. The discussion reveals that the right to health was not simply seen as a noble aspiration or utopian goal — a perception that characterizes its contemporary understanding. On the contrary it was intimately linked, more so than other socio-economic rights, with maintaining peace and security and was therefore considered to be of significant instrumental value. Connecting the history of the right to health with the history of public health reinforces this understanding of the right to health.

Keywords:   right to health, public health, impact of enlightenment, industrial revolution, international legal instruments, regional legal instruments

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