Challenging National Borders – What role for the norm of shared responsibility for realizing the right to health for all?

Date: 12 December 2014

Venue: VUB, Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy, Auditorium Vanden driessche - Laarbeeklaan 103 - 1090 Brussel

Time: 3:00 PM

PhD candidate: Rachel Hammonds

Short description: PhD Defense Rachel Hammonds - Faculty of Law - Law and Development

Abstract: This thesis interrogates the international community's engagement with the norm of shared responsibility for realising the right to health (SRH norm), and explores the impact of this norm on global health policy processes and outcomes. It assesses the proposition that there is growing internalisation or acceptance by key global health actors of the SRH norm, as reflected in global health policy discourse and decisions. The key research questions addressed are: How and why has this human rights-based SRH norm been internalised by key global health actors, or not? And, through two case studies, I examine why it has been successful in some areas of health, notably the response to the global AIDS epidemic, and less so in others, including maternal health? The overall research methodology draws extensively on social constructivism, to explain how and why the SRH norm helps certain issues in global health to advance but others not. My research demonstrates that insights generated by qualitative social science research methods, and an analytical framework rooted in social constructivism, have the potential to significantly enrich and expand our understanding of the evolution of respect for the SRH norm for both legal scholars and public health policy analysts. My two case studies suggest that advancing internalisation of SRH norm requires satisfaction of, at least, the following three conditions: 1) Public health and human rights advocates are united behind a common demand which is agreed through
broad based consultation; 2) That the common demand is framed in a way that appeals to politicians and policy makers; 3) That there is a robust accountability mechanism, e.g. an institution that allows them to track implementation.

Curriculum vitae

Rachel Hammonds is a graduate of McGill University, Canada (BA Cum Laude. political science) and the University of Ottawa, Canada (JD Cum Laude, common law) and is a NY licensed attorney. The majority of her professional experience has been in academic settings including; Comenius University, Slovakia, the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, US and the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium, and has also included experience as a tax advisor at Deloitte & Touche Central Europe and as a legal consultant to the US Treasury Department.

Rachel is currently a researcher at the Public Health Department of the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp, a PhD candidate (Medical Science) at the VUB University in Brussels, and a member of the Law and
Development Research Group at the Law Faculty of the University of Antwerp. Her research focuses on the intersection between human rights, global health and development.

She is a Board member and advisor to the Brussels based independent, international non-profit organization, Mothers at Risk, which is devoted to reducing the vulnerability of mothers, women and girls living in
poverty, so they may have safer pregnancies and deliveries and reach motherhood healthier and better educated.