Professional article
Open access

Health and human rights: epistemological status and perspectives of development

Published inMedicine, health care and philosophy, vol. 14, no. 3, p. 237-247
  • Open Access - Licence nationale Springer
Publication date2011

The health and human rights movement (HHR) shows obvious signs of maturation both internally and externally. Yet there are still many questions to be addressed. These issues include the movement's epistemological status and its perspectives of development. This paper discusses critically the conditions of emergence of HHR, its identity, its dominant schools of thought, its epistemological postures and its methodological issues. Our analysis shows that: (a) the epistemological status of HHR is ambiguous; (b) its identity is uncertain in the absence of a validated definition: is it an action movement, an interdisciplinary field, a domain, an approach, a setting or a scientific discipline? (c) its main schools of thoughts are defined as "advocacists", "ethicists", "interventionists", "normativists"; (d) the movement is in the maturation process as a discipline in which "interface", "distance", "interference" and "fusion" epistemological postures represent the fundamental steps; (e) parent disciplines (health sciences and law) competences, logics and cultures introduce duality and difficulties in knowledge production, validation and diffusion; (f) there is need to re-write the history of the HHR movement by inscribing it not only into the humanitarian or public health perspectives but also into the evolution of sciences and its social, political and economical conditions of emergence. The ambiguous epistemological status of this field, the need to re-write its history, the methodological duality in its research, the question of the competence of the knowledge validation, as well as the impact of HHR practice on national and international health governance are the challenges of its future development. To meet those challenges; we call for the creation and implementation of an international research agenda, the exploration of new research topics and the evaluation of the movement's contribution to the national and global public health and human rights governance.

  • Ethics
  • Health Policy
  • Human Rights
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Philosophy, Medical
  • Public Health/ethics
  • Research/organization & administration
  • Sociology, Medical
  • World Health
Citation (ISO format)
KABENGELE MPINGA, Emmanuel, LONDON, Leslie, CHASTONAY, Philippe. Health and human rights: epistemological status and perspectives of development. In: Medicine, health care and philosophy, 2011, vol. 14, n° 3, p. 237–247. doi: 10.1007/s11019-011-9310-7
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Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1386-7423

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