Call for Abstracts

Special Issue:
Human Rights in
Global Health Governance

Guest Editors
Benjamin Mason Meier, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D.
Lawrence O. Gostin, J.D.

Abstracts due November 1, 2016 

Institutions matter for the advancement of human rights in global health. While the past thirty years have seen a burgeoning stream of analysis on the scope and content of human rights in global health, this scholarship has focused largely on national governments, neglecting the global governance institutions that structure the realization of human rights for global health. Given this dramatic evolution in the development of human rights under international law, there arises an imperative to understand the implementation of these rights in global health governance.

The Fall 2017 issue of Global Health Governance will focus on the application of human rights frameworks in global health governance, with this special issue examining the global institutions bound by human rights under international law.

This special issue of Global Health Governance seeks submissions of research, review, and commentary articles around three themes that define global governance for health, exploring human rights in:

I. The World Health Organization
The first part of the special issue will explore the World Health Organization (WHO), analyzing the role of WHO in operationalizing human rights for global health. As the United Nations’ (UN’s) principal specialized agency for global health, WHO possesses a unique institutional mandate to support member states to progressively realize the right to health, with the 1946 WHO Constitution declaring for the first time that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.” WHO’s current Gender, Equity and Human Rights mainstreaming process seeks, as described by Director-General Chan, “to achieve a WHO in which each staff member has the core value of gender, equity and human right in his/her DNA.” With WHO seeking to anchor human rights across all its work, this Part discusses what role these WHO efforts will play in advancing human rights in an expanding global health governance landscape.

II. Inter-Governmental Organizations
In this expanding global health governance landscape, the second part of the special issue reviews how institutions throughout the UN system have sought to mainstream human rights in a multi-sectoral approach to global health. The 1945 UN Charter elevated human rights as one of the principal purposes of the post-war international system, with states working within the UN system to establish human rights as a formal legal basis to assess and adjudicate principles of justice. Mandating a cross-cutting approach to human rights, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on all UN programs, funds, and specialized agencies in 1997 to mainstream human rights in all their practices. Various agencies (including and beyond WHO) have taken up this call, and this Part explores how human rights have been advanced through the UN system, with articles on, among other institutions, the UN Secretariat, International Labor Organization (ILO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

III. Economic Governance & Funding Agencies
The final part explores the bilateral and multilateral economic governance agencies that have sought to address development for health, breaking the vicious cycle linking economic poverty with morbidity and mortality. Increasingly relevant in global health governance, these institutions have been driven either (a) to address public health as a means to economic development or (b) to address economic development as a means to realize health. With the latter approach aligned with a rights-based approach to health, this Part highlights the role of human rights in economic governance and foreign assistance for global health, with articles on, among other institutions, the World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), bilateral foreign assistance programs (including USAID, DFID, SIDA, JICA, and recent developments in South-South Assistance from BRICS and MINT economies), and Global Fund against HIV, TB and Malaria (Global Fund).

This special issue draws on the contributing articles to address the human rights duties borne by institutions of global governance, identifying facilitating and inhibiting factors for human rights mainstreaming in global health governance. Rather than looking only to the language of human rights in institutional documents, these articles should seek to assess how institutional practices support (or limit) human rights advancement, highlighting the range of institutional determinants (and obstacles) to human rights mainstreaming.

Those interested in contributing to this special issue must submit a 200-word abstract to Global Health Governance ( by November 1, 2016. When submitting your abstracts, please make sure to indicate that you are submitting it to this special issue by including the subject line “Abstract Submission | Human Rights in Global Health Governance.”

The guest editors will review the abstracts and make decisions by December 1, 2016. Authors whose abstracts are accepted will be invited to submit full manuscripts (4,000-6,000 word research articles, 3,000-5,000 word review articles, or 1,000-2,000 word commentaries), which are due by May 1, 2017. After the May 1 deadline, all manuscripts will be internally reviewed, with select manuscripts sent out for peer review. Authors will be notified of a peer review decision by August 1, 2017. Revisions to manuscripts must be returned by September 15th, with the goal of publishing the special issue in October 2017.

More information about Global Health Governance style and formatting can be found at the Journal website:

Thank you for your interest in this special issue. There is a pressing need to draw lessons from institutional practices and examine how institutions can work together in rights-based partnerships for global health governance. We look forward to receiving your abstracts.