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Human Rights in Global HealthRights-Based Governance for a Globalizing World$
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Benjamin Mason Meier and Lawrence O. Gostin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190672676

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190672676.001.0001

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The World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization

Carving Out the Right to Health to Promote Access to Medicines and Tobacco Control in the Trade Arena

(p.375) 17 The World Trade Organization
Human Rights in Global Health

Suerie Moon

Thirukumaran Balasubramaniam

Oxford University Press

The ability of governments to protect and promote health-related human rights can be constrained by international trade rules, including those of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The WTO rules can increase medicine prices, challenge tobacco control measures, restrict national food safety policies, and facilitate brain drain from public health services. This chapter offers a brief history of the WTO’s origins, a high-level overview of the health implications of various WTO agreements, and a closer look at how two key issues—access to medicines and tobacco control—have created greater policy space for health within the WTO. It then identifies the institutional factors that promote or hinder human rights protection and offers conclusions on the prospects for institutionalization of health-related human rights. This chapter concludes that protecting health within the WTO and broader global trade regime is possible, but remains a significant challenge due to major power asymmetries.

Keywords:   World Trade Organization, trade, human rights, TRIPS, intellectual property, access to medicines, tobacco control, plain packaging, right to health, regional trade agreements

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