Agents of Justice in Global Health

Original Article | Pages: 47 - 59
  • Shirin Boroomand - PhD candidate of public law, Faculty of Law, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran []


Background: Interdependence and the processes of globalization in the world have induced complicated problems in global health. Major inequalities in health issues in the world have raised some challenges of climate change, the pro-pagation of infectious diseases, unequal distribution of health facilities, poverty and related illnesses which comprise the main focus of global justice theory.

Methods: The global justice theory, which is a normative discourse about our duties and responsibilities vis-à-vis other people in the world, has been divided into different approaches to address the crises and issues discussed above. These approaches, based on their prepositions and arguments on the principles of justice, have various views on agents of justice. In this study, we will work with two problem-oriented and theoretical approaches to global justice to achieve a desirable approach to global health justice.

Results: According to statist perspective to global justice, states are exclusive agents of justice while cosmopolitans hold that individuals, institutions and states are agents of justice.

Conclusion: It seems that the best position is a middle, synthetic approach, which considers states, non-state actors, institutions and even individuals as the agents of justice and assigns the obligations with a varying degree. Empirical cases and recent experiences in global health confirm the intended results of such perspective.


  1. Tan, Kok-Chor. What is the Thing Called Glo-bal Justice. 1st ed. New York: Rutledge; 2017. 154 p.
  2. Beaglehole R, Bonita R. What is global health? Glob Health Action. 2010;3.
  3. Daniels N. International health inequalities and global justice. In: Boylan M, editor. Inter-national public health policy and ethics. USA: Springer; 2008. p. 109-29.
  4. Gillian B. Global Justice, cosmopolitan duties and duties to compatriots: the case of health-care. Public Health Ethics. 2015;8(2):110-20.
  5. Millum J, Emanuel EJ. Global justice and bio-ethics. Oxford: OUP; 2012. 28 p.
  6. Daniels N. Just health: meeting health needs fairly. 1st ed. New York: Cambridge University Press; 2008. 346 p.
  7. O’Neill O. Agents of justice. Metaphilosophy. 2001;32(1-2):180-95.
  8. Nagel T. The problem of global justice. Philos Public Aff. 2005;33(2):113-47.
  9. Pogge TW. An egalitarian law of peoples. Philos Public Aff. 1994;23(3):195-224.
  10. Risse M. Global justice. Harvard kennedy school working paper No. RWP11-001;2010:1-30.
  11. Rawls J. Law of peoples: with the idea of public reason revisited. Massachusetts: Har-vard University Press; 2001. 175 p.
  12. Risse M. Responsibility and global justice. Int J Jurisprudence Philos Law. 2017:30(1):41-58.
  13. Sangiovanni A. Global justice, reciprocity and the state. Philos Public Aff. 2007;35(1):3-39.
  14. Sen A. Justice across borders. In: De Greiff P, Cronin C, editors. Global justice and trans-national politics: essays on moral and political challenges of globalization. Cambridge: MIT Press; 2002. p. 37-51.
  15. Bernstein AR. Human rights, global justice and disaggregated states: John Rawls, Onora O’neill and Anne-Marie Slaghter. Am J Eco-nom Sociol. 2007;66(1):87-111.
  16. Temkin L. Inequality. 1st ed. New York: Ox-ford University Press; 1993. 352 p.
  17. Risse-Kappen T. Bringing transnational re-lations back. In: Non-state actors, domestic structures and international institutions. Cam-bridge: Cambridge University Press; 1995. 325 p.
  18. O’neill O. Bounds of justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2004. 232 p.
  19. Fidler DP. Globalization, international law and emerging infectious disease. Emerg Infect Dis. 1996;2(2):77-84.
  20. Ruger JP. Global health justice and gover-nance. Am J Bioeth.2012;12(12):35-54.
  21. Walker N. After sovereignty. Sovereignty in transition. Oxford: Hart Publishing; 2003. 572 p.
  22. World Health Organization [Internet]. The operational response to SARS. 2003a. Avai-lable from: 2003416/en [Accessed 27th November 2018].
  23. World Health Organization. Coronavirus never before seen in humans is the cause of SARS. 2003b. Update 31. Available from: http:// [Accessed 27th November 2018].
  24. Steinbock, B, London AJ, Arras JD, editors. Ethical issues in modern medicine. 8th ed. London: McGraw Hill; 2009. 880 p.
  25. World Health Organization. Global health governance: overview of the role of inter-national law in protecting and promoting glo-bal public health. Key issues in global health governance. 2002:3(1):6-53.
  26. Young IM. Responsibility for justice. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2011. 224 p.
  27. Gomez-Dants O. The quest for global justice in health: a review of global health law by lawrence 0. Gostin. Yale J Health Policy Law Ethics. 2015:15(2):377-90.

XML Format

XML in HBI Format


Boroomand Sh. [Agents of Justice in Global Health]. Iran J Biomed Law Ethics. 2019;1(1):47-59. Persian.