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This article argues from a South African perspective that national experience in attempting to fulfil the right to health supports the need for an international framework. Secondly, we suggest that this framework is not just a matter of good choice or even of justice but of a direct legal duty that falls on those states that have consented to operate within the international human rights framework by ratifying key treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). States can either accept this duty or face with growing pressure from those who believe in global social justice to find lasting solutions to the terrible inequities in global health standards.