The Second Most Difficult Job in the World

Reflections on covid-19

In: Journal of International Humanitarian Legal Studies
Jan Klabbers Professor of International Law, Erik Castrén Institute, Faculty of Law, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

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This article addresses the ecology and functioning of the World Health Organization in a time of crisis, zooming in on the pressures on both the organization and its leadership generated by the circumstance that the organization cannot avoid allocating costs and benefits when taking decisions. The article argues that the covid-19 crisis illustrates how international organizations generally and the who in particular are subjected to conflicting demands, and how this impacts on the role of decision-makers. The latter, it transpires, need to display considerable practical wisdom.

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