Despite large gains in health over the past few decades, the distribution of health risks worldwide remains extremely and unacceptably uneven. Although the health sector has a crucial role in addressing health inequalities, its eff orts often come into confl ict with powerful global actors in pursuit of other interests such as protection of national security, safeguarding of sovereignty, or economic goals. This is the starting point of The Lancet–University of Oslo Commission on Global Governance for Health. With globalisation, health inequity increasingly results from transnational activities that involve actors with diff erent interests and degrees of power: states, transnational corporations, civil society, and others. The decisions, policies, and actions of such actors are, in turn, founded on global social norms. Their actions are not designed to harm health, but can have negative side effects that create health inequities. The norms, policies, and practices that arise from global political interaction across all sectors that affect health are what we call global political determinants of health.