University of Toronto ·  Trinity College


The Global Health Diplomacy Program aims to determine how actors at all levels can conduct more effective, comprehensive and coherent diplomacy to innovate in the global governance of the inherently internationalized health risks brought by globalization. Directed by John Kirton, based at Trinity College at the University of Toronto, the program focuses on the role of intergovernmental and transnational institutions and networks and the role of state and non-state actors in their creation and governance.


Strengthening Summit Diplomacy for Global Health

This project explores how global intergovernmental summits can advance global health and related objectives in critical areas. Its purpose is to identify how and why such summits can be made to work for global health in domestic political management, deliberation, direction setting, decision making, delivery and development, especially in ways that comprehensively and coherently combine health with close-related cognates of the environment, nutrition, food and agriculture, and finance, economics and business. Its particular concern is how leaders can improve compliance with their summit commitments, accountability for those commitments and results from them — including by mobilizing the power of civil society, scientists and business, by adding accountability mechanisms that work and by using surrounding summits in support.

The project embraces broadly multilateral summits with a comprehensive agenda, such as those of the United Nations on the Millennium Development Goals and those with a specific focus such as the UN high-level meetingon non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in September 2011. It focuses on plurilateral summits that deal with health, notably the G8, G20, BRICS, APEC, the North American Leaders’ Summits, the Summit of the Americas and CARICOM.

Innovation in Global Health Governance

This project develops and tests a framework of challenge-response-innovation that captures the dynamics of the new vulnerability brought by disease in the 21st century and the nature and effectiveness of the innovations in international governance that they have evoked.

The project began an assessment with the selection, compilation and overview of the leading articles in the emerging multidisciplinary field of global heath.

The primary emphasis has been on developing and testing the challenge-response-innovation framework through an overview of the performance of the major international institutions and through detailed case studies of the governance of critical contemporary diseases.

The next phases are to develop and test the general framework and the component concept of “Moving Health Sovereignty” and to explore the connection between global health and climate change.

Forging the Health-Diplomacy Link

To develop the links between challenge and response and between response and innovation, this project focuses on the global health diplomacy that brings together those in the health community, on the one hand, and in the foreign policy, trade, development, environment and security communities, on the other, in the intergovernmental, state and non-state realms.

The project began with an analysis of the governance of global health by the G8, as an apex international institution of the most powerful countries, where health can be integrated with international and domestic affairs comprehensively, coherently and authoritatively.

Work is continuing to explore a broader range of compliance catalysts and the processes within G8 member governments through which commitments made at the annual summit are carried back home, implemented and monitored across the government as a whole.

Canadian Foreign Policy for Global Health

This project assesses and advises on Canada’s contribution to global health. It examines Canadian foreign policy on global health, in a comprehensive, strategic sense and in regard to critical issues of infectious and non-infectious disease. It explores Canadian foreign policy in unilateral and bilateral contexts, in a North American regional context, and in the global context as a whole.

Key Links

Caribbean Public Health Agency | SETH Fund | POSDEVAL