Informal Norms in Global Governance: Human Rights, Intellectual Property Rules and Access to Medicines, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Informal Norms in Global Governance

Human Rights, Intellectual Property Rules and Access to Medicines, 1st Edition

By Wolfgang Hein, Suerie Moon


264 pages

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Hein and Moon take up a serious problem of contemporary global governance: what can be done when international trade rules prevent the realization of basic human rights? Starting in the 1990s, intellectual property obligations in trade agreements required many developing countries to begin granting medicines patents, which often rendered lifesaving drugs unaffordable. At stake was the question of what priority would be given to health-particularly of some of the world’s poorest people-and what priority to economic interests, particularly those of the most powerful states and firms. This book recounts the remarkable story of the access to medicines movement. The authors offer an explanation for how the informal, but powerful norm that every person should have access to essential medicines emerged after a decade of heated political contestation and against long odds. They also explore the stability and scope of the norm. Finally, the book examines the limitations of informal norms for protecting human rights, and when renewed focus on changing formal norms is warranted.


A Yankee Book Peddler UK Core Title for 2013 ’A fascinating study of how to achieve global change in an area of critical importance to millions of people, against considerable odds, through the combination of innovative ideas, clever strategies and the power of norms. If it can be done through access to medicines, it can also be done elsewhere.’ John Gerard Ruggie, Harvard University, USA ’Global health is increasingly challenged to deal with the transnational political and the commercial determinants of health - but international political institutions are often weak and fragmented and find it difficult to apply the legal and normative instruments at their disposal. This book describes the fundamental conflicts of interest at stake and illustrates how the framing of access to medicines as a human right has opened up new opportunities for civil society to demand a new approach to global governance for health. Its message is clear: global health requires a change in the character of global politics.’ Ilona Kickbusch, The Graduate Institute Geneva, Switzerland

About the Authors

Wolfgang Hein, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Germany and Suerie Moon, Harvard University, USA.

About the Series

Global Health

Global Health
The benefits of globalization are potentially enormous, as a result of the increased sharing of ideas, cultures, life-saving technologies and efficient production processes. Yet globalization is under trial, partly because these benefits are not yet reaching hundreds of millions of the world's poor and partly because globalization has introduced new kinds of international problems and conflicts. Turmoil in one part of the world now spreads rapidly to others, through terrorism, armed conflict, environmental degradation or disease. This timely series provides a robust and multi-disciplinary assessment of the asymmetrical nature of globalization. Books in the series encompass a variety of areas, including global health and the politics of governance, poverty and insecurity, gender and health and the implications of global pandemics.

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