The Duty of States to Assist Other States in Need: Ethics, Human Rights, and International Law


  • Lawrence O. Gostin,

    1. Associate Dean (Research and Academic Programs) and the Linda D. and Timothy J. O'Neill Professor of Global Health Law at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. He is also a Professor of Public Health at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland and a Visiting Professor at Oxford University.
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  • Robert Archer

    1. Executive Director of the International Council on Human Rights Policy in Geneva, Switzerland.
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In this article, Gostin and Archer explore the varied lenses through which governments are obligated to address humanitarian needs. States’responsibilities to help others derive from domestic law, political commitments, ethical values, national interests, and international law. What is needed, however, is clarity and detailed standards so that States can operationalize this responsibility, making it real for developing countries. Transnational cooperation needs to be more effective and consistent to provide assistance for the world's poorest and least healthy people.