Brocher Academy on Global Health Law | International law, global justice, and global health

Introduction :


Undergraduates, masters students, PhD candidates, as well as junior professionals with a legal background and interest in global health law.


The need for cooperation between States in the field of global health has been known since the 19th century when the first efforts at international coordination in the fight against epidemics were made. These efforts were at the center of global discussions after the West African Ebola crisis in 2014 and again in 2020 as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The latter, due to its global impact, has highlighted multiple weaknesses in the level of pandemic preparedness of States to prevent and react to the threats posed by infectious diseases, whether in the short term to block their spread, or in the long term to face the sanitary, ethical, economic, and social challenges resulting from communicable disease and its management.

The efforts of the international community to deal with this pandemic situation have been multiple: first, in financial terms, to meet the socio-economic needs of the populations; second, in political and strategic terms, since it is a question of thinking about how to better prepare our societies to face such threats, which are likely to increase in the future. In this context, the consensus decision adopted by the World Health Assembly in November 2021 to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement or other international (legal) instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, has reminded us that international law is a central tool to support State action and international cooperation in the field of global health.

The need for the international community to strengthen the legal basis for its cooperation and action in the field of global health goes well beyond the need to be prepared against infectious diseases: it is more generally a matter of providing a collective and concerted response to many global health issues related to drug resistance, non-communicable diseases, mental health conditions, health inequities, access to primary health care services for all, implementation of universal health coverage, global health workforce, etc.


Today, there exists a field of global health law that stands on its own in international law, with devoted institutions, legal norms, control and monitoring mechanisms and area of application. International law, as a central instrument in the toolbox of the international community to address global health challenges, must be taught, critically discussed, implemented, improved, and developed. Students and young professionals active in the broad field of global health should be well aware of the international legal environment applicable to global health issues.

This course will provide an advanced overview of global health law: the fundamental principles applicable, the actors involved, the legal norms already in place and their implementation, and the ongoing negotiations regarding new legal instruments. Special attention will be given to the WHO pandemic instrument that is currently being negotiated and that will still be in negotiation in summer 2023 at the time of the summer school – as well as to the role played by global institutions more particularly involved in these discussions and other global health diplomacy debates.

Students will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, class discussions, practical exercises and a field visit to WHO (including meetings with WHO experts from diverse Departments). The approach will be guided by the in-depth examination of specific global health challenges and the analysis provided by scholars as well as by practitioners involved in the resolution of these issues.

Accommodation will be organised for external students at the Brocher Foundation or at a place close by.

Catering will also be organised on site. (lunch for all and full pension for external students)



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