Global Health Law

Registration for summer 2025 will open in January 2025.


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.

Tuition Fees: including tuition costs, lunches, and scheduled networking events (field trip to WHO) for all. For external students and professionals, the fees include accommodation and full catering (breakfast, lunches and dinners).

Professionals (course + lunches): CHF 1,000
External students (*) (course + accommodation + catering (breakfast+lunch+dinner)): CHF 800
UNIGE students (*) (max. 5 students) (course + lunches): CHF 200

(*) Bachelor and master’s degree-seeking students only. The tuition fees for lifelong learning students and Ph.D. candidates are subject to employment status.


US & CAN students

4 travel grants with an amount of CHF 1,100 each for students who are enrolled at a US or Canadian University. Before applying, please thoroughly read the eligibility criteria on the official ThinkSwiss website.

Registration Closed


Students from Lower- and Middle-Income Countries

Partial scholarships (including the course, housing and catering fees) are available for doctoral and master students originating from a country listed on the document in the Annex (OECD, DAC List of ODA Recipients). Please specify in your motivation letter if you need a scholarship.

Registration Closed



  • Brocher Foundation
  • Canton of Geneva
  • Pôle Berenstein (University of Geneva)
  • Embassy of Switzerland in the United States of AmericaLOGORCGE_rvb72dpi_ANG.jpg

Course Director:

Prof. Stéphanie Dagron

Stéphanie Dagron is a full professor of international law at the University of Geneva, teaching and researching in the fields of health and social security law. Since September 2022, she is the director of the Master of science in global health. French by nationality, she holds a PhD in International and European law from the Universities of Poitiers (France) and Saarbrücken (Germany). She has been a professor at the University of Zurich between 2013 and 2016.

Since 2013, Stéphanie practices international law in her work as a consultant for WHO in the fields of tuberculosis, human rights, research ethics and infectious diseases. She is also a member of the WHO Research Ethics Committee. Stephanie’s research activities have been funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation: a first research project addressed the global regulation of pharmaceuticals; a second large-scale research project was concerned with the role of international law as an indispensable instrument to address global health issues and reinforce social justice.


Scientific Committee

Prof. Gian Luca Burci

Gian Luca Burci has been an Adjunct Professor of international law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva since 2012.  He is also Academic Adviser to the Global Health Centre of the Graduate. Before this appointment, he served in the Legal Office of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2016 and was its Legal Counsel from 2005 to 2016. Prof. Burci holds a post graduate degree in law from the University of Genova, Italy.

He is the co-author of the leading English book on WHO, editor of the first research collection on global health law, co-editor of the first research handbook on global health law and author of numerous articles and book chapters on a variety of topics including the law of international organizations, UN peace and security functions, international immunities, as well as global health law.

Prof Lisa Forman

Professor Lisa Forman is the Canada Research Chair in Human Rights and Global Health Equity and an Associate Professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. She is an international human rights law scholar whose research explores how the right to health may contribute to advancing health equity, including in relation to access to medicines, universal health coverage, global health policy, pandemic responses and COVID-19.

Professor Forman’s work has been supported by the CIHR, the European Commission, the World Health Organization, and the Lupina Foundation. Professor Forman qualified as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa, with a BA and LLB from the University of the Witwatersrand. Her graduate studies include a Master in Human Rights Studies from Columbia University and a Doctorate in Juridical Science from the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law. 

Prof Benjamin Mason Meier

Benjamin Mason Meier is a Professor of Global Health Policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Chair of the Global Health Law Consortium. Dr. Meier’s interdisciplinary research—at the intersection of global health, international law, and public policy—examines rights-based approaches to health. His recent global health governance volume, Human Rights in Global Health: Rights-Based Governance in a Globalizing World (OUP 2018), examines the influence of human rights across the health efforts of the United Nations.

Drawing from this comparative analysis of international organizations, Dr. Meier has published an academic textbook for the field of health and human rights, Foundations of Global Health & Human Rights (OUP 2020). To advance legal scholarship on contemporary global health issues, he recently launched a quarterly column on Global Health Law in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics and is now editing a foundational text on Global Health Law & Policy: Realizing Justice for a Healthier World (OUP 2023).

Dr. Pedro A. Villarreal

Pedro A. Villarreal is a Senior Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law and a Researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. His research focuses on international and comparative law on human health issues, as well as its intersections with international economic law. He received his PhD in Law from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM).

His book, Pandemics and Law: A Global Governance Perspective (published in 2019 in Spanish) was awarded the Prize for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Law and Social Sciences at said University. He is a member, among other associations, of the Global Health Law Consortium, the Global Health Law Committee of the International Law Association, and the German Alliance for Global Health Research. He is currently member of the editorial board of Lex-Atlas: COVID-19.

Preliminary list of (academic) speakers

This Summer School will bring together distinguished scholars in global health law (mostly members of the Global Health Law Consortium, as well as practitioners and professionals from international institutions in Geneva (WHO, WTO, WOAH, ILO, UNHCHR, GAVI etc).

The (confirmed) scholars for this first Global Health Law Summer School are:

  • Prof. Gian Luca Burci (Graduate institute, Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Prof. Stéphanie Dagron (University of Geneva, Switzerland)
  • Prof Lisa Forman (Toronto University, Canada)
  • Roojin Habibi (Pierre Elliott Trudeau Scholar, York University, Canada)
  • Prof. Benjamin Mason Meier (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA)
  • Prof. Stefania Negri (University of Salerno, Italy), tbc
  • Prof. Sharifa Sekkalala (University of Warwick, UK)
  • Prof. Aeyal Gross (Tel Aviv University, Israel)
  • Dr. Pedro Villarreal (Max-Planck-Institute, Germany)


Maria Birungi Kakinda, from Uganda - 2023 Edition

The Global Health Law under the University of Geneva’s summer school programme was a dream come true for me.  I interacted with leading scholars in Global Health Law by inquiring about their scholarship: we developed a mantra during class; ‘no question is stupid’. This helped me to be less self-conscious and truly embody a learners’ mindset. The course helped me also understand that International Health law is an embodiment of various international legal regimes, through the detailed lectures on the various regimes delivered over the course of the week. A highlight during the week was the visit to the World Health Organization offices, the talks given by the officials, and the selfies and group picture with the WHO Director-General! I also met fellow Global Health Law enthusiasts from across the world, and it was great to learn about their interests in the field. Would I recommend this experience to anyone? In the blink of an eye.

Elizabeth Loftus, University of Toronto - 2023 Edition

My name’s Elizabeth, and I’m from Toronto, Ontario in Canada. I am entering my second year in the Master of Public Health in Social and Behavioural Health Sciences (Health Promotion) program at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, at the University of Toronto. I had an amazing experience in the Global Health Law summer course, and think it would be an asset to anyone interested in the subject matter!

The course content was both challenging and rewarding to learn – we received solid foundational instruction on global health law, health and human rights, global health security, health systems strengthening, as well as climate change and environmental law from a global health law lens. The instruction quality in the course was very high – the instructors had impressive academic and professional backgrounds, and brought a rich wealth of knowledge to the course and students. Our learning was further enhanced by our visit to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Headquarters, where we learned about the revision of the International Health Regulations, and the negotiation of a new pandemic treaty. Further, the makeup of the course was diverse, with over 40 students from over 20 countries, and a wide array of backgrounds ranging from law, to international affairs and political science, to public health and medicine. I think the diverse backgrounds of the students greatly added to my learning experience in the course! Additionally, the venue at which the event was hosted was beautiful – the Brocher Foundation’s facilities are quaint and comfortable, and it is located steps from Lake Geneva. The environment made it feel equal parts like a retreat, as well as an intensive course. Another remarkable aspect of the course was the funding that was available to students. The course director and coordinators went above and beyond in making sure that the course was as accessible as possible.

I think I am walking away from this course with an improved understanding of the field of Global Health Law, and believe that it will make me a more critical and well-rounded public health practitioner and researcher in the future! Many thanks to the instructors and course coordinators, and all the best to future students in this course!