Ethics & International Affairs Volume 27.3 (Fall 2013): "The Human Right to Health" by Jonathan Wolff

Sep 18, 2013

The Human Right to Health, Jonathan Wolff (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012), 208 pp., $23.95 cloth, $15.95 paper.

Review by Joia S. Mukherjee

The modern day notion of human rights was shaped significantly by World War II and the subsequent Nuremberg Trials of 1948, which sparked a movement to codify a new standard of human dignity. The postwar campaign for a universal standard for all humans regardless of nationality, race, or religion produced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). And while the Declaration itself does not have the legal weight of a treaty or covenant, it nonetheless has served as a yardstick against which rights are measured.

Notably, the Declaration gives weight to two aspects of the rights paradigm of the twentieth century: the need for a government not to restrict the rights of or discriminate against its citizens, and the need for a government to deliver to its citizens a basic set of services, including education and health.

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