The right to health in the post-2015 agenda

August 28, 2015


The Millennium Development Goals expire at the end of 2015 and global negotiations are underway to finalise the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. An article in BMC International Health and Human Rights examines why it appears the right to health, so far, is not gaining direct expression in the post-2015 discussions.

Much activism has occurred encouraging a post-2015 health and development goal embedded in the highest attainable standard of health (‘right to health’). Despite this, the right to health was absent in three key post-2015 intergovernmental Sustainable Development Goal proposals in 2014, one of which was reinforced by the United Nations General Assembly in September 2014 as the guiding document for ongoing interstate negotiations.

High-level hesitancy

For this qualitative research, key-informant interviews were conducted in 2013 and 2014, with participants from multilateral and other organisations (government, academia, civil society and philanthropy) responsible for health in the post-2015 development agenda. The interviews provide insight into high-level hesitancy that the right to health be expressly incorporated in the final post-2015 health and development goal, as well as documents participants’ doubt that rights language will explicitly frame the broader Sustainable Development Goals, their targets and indicators.

The authors identified six reasons why the right to health may not have gained effective traction in the post-2015 Member State negotiations. The first three reasons relate to broader issues surrounding human rights’ positioning within international relations discourse, and the second three relate to the challenges of transforming the human right to health into a practically applied post-2015 health goal.

Download article “Everywhere but not specifically somewhere”: a qualitative study on why the right to health is not explicit in the post-2015 negotiations

Claire Brolan, Peter Hill and Gorik Ooms, BMC International Health and Human Rights (2015) 15:22