Those of us who have been working on the Framework Convention on Global Health (FCGH) have long debated when it would be time to begin drafting the treaty. The FCGH Alliance has now begun the drafting process, with the aim of catalyzing widespread engagement – and we hope, most importantly, reaching people who rarely have a say in health-related policymaking, much less in developing international treaties – and beginning to build a shared vision for what the FCGH could accomplish.
The FCGH, a proposed global treaty, is aimed at closing the vast health inequities by bringing greater accountability to the right to health – and helping building the capacities of states to implement it and people to claim it. Today’s global environment may seem deeply at odds with what is needed to achieve the FCGH, as a number of governments have become skeptical of multilateralism, xenophobia and intolerance and division that are antithetical to the principles of the FCGH are on the rise, and powerful countries challenge and seek to undermine a rights-based international order. Yet this only adds impetus to this initiative. The FCGH would be a powerful response – a strong affirmation of multilateralism, of human rights, of inclusion, and a way for all those who share in these values to stand up for them. And the treaty would respond to a central driver of these dangerous trends, rising inequality.
What, then, would the FCGH accomplish? For the first time, you can read a comprehensive discussion draft outline of the treaty, as well as a discussion draft of the first part of the treaty.
The draft outline encompasses four areas. The first is the treaty’s mission, covering the mission as well as guiding principles and a more extensive elaboration of general right to health requirements than presently codified. The online discussion draft of the first part of the treaty details what this could look like.
The second section encompasses the right to health in all policies and sectors, and at all levels of governance, from local to global. This far-ranging section spans from the health sector and underlying determinants, along with their financing, to ways in which the FCGH could bring accountability to all sectors for their right to health responsibilities. It also includes ways in which the FCGH could foster state actions to ensure that businesses respect the right to health, and to ensure that states fulfill their right to health obligations in their international interactions.
The third section covers three core right to health principles: equality, participation, and accountability, proposing specific mechanisms, guidelines, and other ways that the FCGH could animate these principles in a world where, presently, the level of inequality is unconscionable, participation is often limited at best, and accountability is often lacking. The treaty’s final section would establish accountability and compliance mechanisms for the FCGH itself. It would also include final provisions, such as to establish a Secretariat and processes for developing protocols and amendments, ensuring that the FCGH adapts to changing times.
The goal of posting these discussion documents is precisely that: discussion. Those of us long involved with the FCGH have always hoped for a process of developing the FCGH that reflects the principles of the right to health, that the process of developing the FCGH is true to the participation that is a core right to health principle – and that emphasizes the participation of marginalized and disadvantaged populations. Drafting the FCGH – even such a preliminary discussion drafts as we have embarked upon now – is an early step towards developing the FCGH. We are far from the point where we would like to be – where we need to be – regarding such a process, but at least this open consultation is a step.
We have already received valuable feedback; in fact, the versions now available have been updated to incorporate the first round of feedback, and are better for it.
The FCGH Alliance encourages and welcomes your thoughts on what we have developed thus far, and strongly encourages you to share this opportunity with people you know. Above all, it would be a great service to this effort if you can help us reach people who are less privileged, who experience violations of the right to health in their own lives – perhaps regularly – people who are on the short end of health inequities.
There is another way that you may be able to contribute as well. The FCGH Alliance is searching for additional Executive Committee members to help steer the Alliance and the future of the FCGH. We ask that Executive Committee members be able to volunteer at least 4-8 hours per month for Alliance work. If you would like to know more about this possibility, please email the FCGH Alliance Chair at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And even if you are not in a position to consider seeking Executive Committee membership, the Alliance would warmly welcome new members. If you or your organization is interested, please fill out a membership form.
The views reflected in this expert column are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent those of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law or Georgetown University. This blog is solely informational in nature, and not intended as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed and retained attorney in your state or country.