As political instruments, human rights can be challenged in two important ways: first, by undermining the claim to universality by appealing to a kind of cultural relativism, and second, by accusing human rights of unjustifiably imposing values that are not genuinely universal (which I dub the problem of parochialism). The human right to health is no exception. If a human right to health is to be a useful instrument in mobilizing action for global health justice, then we need to take seriously the ways that health intersects with culture. Universal applicability is essential to both the legitimacy and efficacy of human rights. But without cultural sensitivity, additional injustices and imperialistic harms may be perpetuated. There are two goals within this paper—(1) to show that cultural imperialism is a moral and practical hazard, both in general and for the human right to health in particular and (2) to articulate a way of thinking about the human right to health that can minimize these hazards and arm it with moral credibility and political weight.
Asian Bioethics Review – Springer Journals
Published: Jan 1, 2022
Keywords: Human rights; Right to health; Cultural imperialism; Global health; Public health ethics