Covid-19 and the Global Legal Disorder

6 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2020 Last revised: 22 Jun 2020

See all articles by Simon Chesterman

Simon Chesterman

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law

Date Written: April 29, 2020


When the world restarts and the masks are put away, will the global legal order look the same? Should it?
A crisis is a terrible time to make predictions about the future. But it’s a great time to rethink dubious assumptions of the past, and address tensions revealed in the present. Just within the field of international law, Covid-19 has encouraged all three. Pundits predict the death of globalization — or its rebirth. Others assert that they always knew the global public health infrastructure was fundamentally flawed, or that it was the one thing saving us from apocalypse. And, of course, there are those eagerly seeking someone, somewhere, against whom they might bring a lawsuit. So it might be helpful to sort some of the wheat from the chaff and map out what we know, what we don’t know, and where we might go from here.

Keywords: international law, international organisations, Covid-19, globalization, United Nations, inequality, surveillance, privacy

JEL Classification: I18, K33, F02, F53

Suggested Citation

Chesterman, Simon, Covid-19 and the Global Legal Disorder (April 29, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Simon Chesterman (Contact Author)

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Faculty of Law ( email )

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Singapore, 259776


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