The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law and Georgetown University believe law plays a fundamental, yet underutilized and underdeveloped, role in providing solutions to global health challenges. By “law” we mean the statutes and regulations that express public policy as well as public institutions, including courts, legislatures and agencies, responsible for creating, implementing, and interpreting the law. Therefore, in April 2015, we are launching The Lancet – O’Neill Institute, Georgetown University Commission on Global Health and the Law to examine the vital role of law in responding to major global health challenges. The Commission will make an innovative case for the power of law to improve health while revealing the opportunities and challenges under the status quo.
This novel Commission will concern itself with the complex interaction between laws impacting health at the national, regional, and international levels: (1) identifying evidence-based means by which law can contribute to improved health and safety outcomes; (2) enhancing the ways in which health and safety are taken prioritized in law and policy; and (3) examining how international organizations, governing processes, and instruments can support, reinforce, and incentivize countries’ development of domestic laws to improve their public’s health and safety.
The Commission will build on existing scholarship, previous Lancet Commissions, as well as ongoing law reform and international disputes. To ensure the unique but holistic nature of the Commission’s scholarship, Commissioners have been chosen from an international roster of experts in fields ranging from health, policy, and law to economics and governance. Importantly, the Commission will reflect diverse geographical backgrounds and multiple sectors such as international organizations, governments, academia, and civil society.
The Commission will make recommendations on the role of law in establishing overarching normative guidance on global health, including encouraging countries and international bodies to adopt laws that have demonstrated a positive impact on health outcomes. These recommendations will not only support previous recommendations but present novel suggestions for forward progress in global health. Overall, the Commission aims to present a compelling argument as to why law should be viewed as a major determinant of health and safety and how the law can be utilized as powerful and innovative tool to address pressing global health concerns.