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The Imperial – Emancipatory Paradox of International Human Rights: How Useful is the Right to Health in Sub-Saharan Africa?

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In thinking of and formulating strategies for tackling the problem of access to good health care services in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is very tempting to look to the right to health as part of such strategies. However, given the genealogy and practices of the international human rights corpus, the question as to the value of utilising the right to health in such endeavours necessarily comes to the fore and demands investigation.

Using the trajectory of the right to health, the paper analyses the usefulness or otherwise of international human rights in seeking solutions to problems relating to health in Sub-Saharan Africa. An argument is made that the right to health has low utility value despite the promises it makes. The paper concludes with the argument that an appreciation of the imperial-emancipatory paradox that is inherent in the corpus of international human rights not only enables one to expect less from the right to health but also opens up possibilities of crafting more productive strategies in the struggle to achieve the 'highest attainable standard of health' for the people of Sub-Saharan Africa.

Affiliations: 1: Doctoral Candidate, University of Melbourne Law School


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