Ville Päivänsalo, “Reframing Capabilities between Welfarism and Resourcism in the Collaboration for the Right to Health,” Studia Theologica 69:2 (2015): 190-209. DOI:10.1080/0039338X.2015.1085897

Since the Constitution of the World Health Organization (1946) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) were drafted, two broad approaches to the human right to health have been prominent: the health-in-itself approach (WHO)—a kind of welfarism—and the standard-of-living approach (UDHR)—a kind of resourcism. More recently, the capabilities approach to human development has provided a viable third alternative. This article reframes the idea of human capabilities to health as a mediating baseline between welfarism and resourcism so that, first, the main strengths of both of these parent approaches are retained. Second, the emerging dialogical capabilities approach (DCA) opens up smoothly towards collaboration among faith-based approaches within human rights thought and law. While DCA allows a broad diversity of foundational understandings of the human right to health, it supports the need for a high-level practical consensus in terms of human rights. But if the capabilities approach is understood as sharply contrasted to either welfarism or resourcism, or if it is grounded in an exclusively secular manner, it risks becoming a peculiarly narrow agenda that could hardly serve as a conceptual baseline for the collaborative promotion of the human right to health.