Friday, February 10, 2012


PUBLICATION: The Future of International Environmental Law: A Law of the Ecological Commons?

Those interested in legal issues pertaining to the commons will be glad to learn that commons scholar David Bollier has contributed a chapter to a new law textbook, International Environmental Law and World Order:  A Problem-Oriented Coursebook. Bollier describes the chapter, and adds some thoughts about moving the study of the commons into law schools, in a post on his blog:

The first section of the chapter looks at the conceptual and historical background of the commons, as seen through readings by Garret Hardin and commons scholars such as Elinor Ostrom and Lewis Hyde. 

The next section introduces new notions of stewardship over the long term, often in contrast to regimes of private property rights and exclusive individual ownership for market gain.  This accounts for the many deep tensions between private property law and the commons.

A third section surveys a number of contemporary ecological commons and proposals for new commons such as acequias (community-operated waterways) that enable Native Americans to steward scarce water supplies in New Mexico; the Potato Park in Peru that empowers indigenous people to assert stewardship rights over a genetically valuable potatoes; community fishing regimes for endangered fisheries; and “stakeholder trusts” and “social charters” as a new paradigms of governance of ecological resources.  The point is that we need new sorts of institutional innovation to manage the atmosphere, oceans and fresh water more responsibly.

Finally, a fourth section considers the future of the commons and ecological governance that nation-states should strive to support.

The full chapter is available here (pdf).

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