Institute of Health & Society

Social justice

Social justice, human rights and health

Why is a research institute in a medical school concerned with social justice? Why does it put the right to health at the heart of its work?


In 1946 the World Health Organization’s constitution envisaged “the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being”, and in 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed that everyone is entitled to economic, social, and cultural rights, including that of health.

The major factors that determine our health and life expectancy are social, and not biological – factors connected to, among other things, wealth and poverty, race and gender.

Human rights have the potential to help us achieve social justice as they encourage us to rethink systemically the way we construct and implement public policy. Public authorities must adopt all appropriate measures to advance in the enjoyment of the right to health without discrimination and paying particular attention to most vulnerable groups.

To contribute to progress towards health for all, the Institute believes that its academics, lecturers, and students should make social justice and the right to health a conscious part of their research and learning.

Social justice projects

Health inequalities projects

All sections of the Institute contribute to work on inequalities. This is a small selection of projects