The External Dimension of the European Research Area
Edited by Heiko Prange-Gstöhl
Chapter 2: European Scientific and Technical Responses to the Challenge of Sustaining Global Commons
John Vogler INTRODUCTION: THE ‘TRAGEDY’ OF GLOBAL COMMONS Global commons are frequently subject to ‘tragedies’ of misuse and pose particular problems for international co-operation. They comprise the resources of the high seas and deep seabed, Antarctica, outer space and the geostationary orbit plus the global atmosphere. One dimension of the management regimes for all these commons involves international S&T co-operation, particularly for monitoring functions, but also to inform the underlying understandings upon which the regimes are based. This chapter will attempt to assess the extent to which such activities are carried out on a European rather than a member state basis. For a number of reasons direct European Community involvement is limited. However, there are indications that its support of international research programmes and involvement in bilateral capacity building are significant. The chapter concludes with a brief evaluation of arguments for a more coherent and centralized EU approach. The global commons are areas and resources beyond sovereign jurisdiction. Although economists sometimes refer to natural commons, they are probably better regarded as social constructs but ones that are derived from the prevailing state of scientific knowledge and technological capability.1 The first of the global commons and indeed the subject of some of the initial attempts to formulate international legal principles were the high seas, beyond a narrow territorial sea of three miles. As it became technologically possible to reach and exploit sea-bed resources the dimensions of the oceans common changed. National demands for the right to exploit offshore oil and...
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