Current Developments

Between the body and the politic

Reading recommendations on epidemics, international law, and history – Part II

Herlihy writes of the Black Death, “the plague caused divisions between the healthy and the sick, those in the cultural mainstream and those in the margins… and between the mass of society and its cultural leaders”. Those in the margins of society included strangers, travelers, beggars, lepers, Jews, the poor… the list goes on. Towns routinely closed their gates to all outsiders. During the plague of the 1890s, the medical …

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Current Developments

Between the body and the politic

Reading recommendations on epidemics, international law, and history – Part I

The mute substratum of political life. This is how Clifford Owens describes the body. When things are going well, it silently slips into the background of public life. When the body becomes threatened, however, it transforms into “the source of the most profound disturbances in the political field”. After all, we humans are, despite our highest ethical ideals and furthest scientific advances, still inescapably tethered to our bodies. Our physical …

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Book ReviewResponse

Global information governance in pandemic times

In the geopolitics of global health information, international institutional law is more important than ever

The main argument of my book, which we are discussing in this symposium, is that international institutions are not only diplomatic fora, lawmakers or financiers, but also act and govern through information, knowledge and expertise. Their informational activities are governed by a body of law that strikes an uneasy balance between international cooperation, state sovereignty and individual rights. This balance is becoming all the more salient in times of a …

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