Earth Governance
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Earth Governance

Trusteeship of the Global Commons

Klaus Bosselmann

The predicament of uncontrolled growth in a finite world puts the global commons - such as oceans, atmosphere, and biosphere - at risk. So far, states have not found the means to protect, what essentially, is outside their jurisdiction. However the jurisprudence of international law has matured to a point that makes global governance beyond state-negotiated compromises both possible and desirable. This book makes an ambitious, yet well-researched and convincing case, for trusteeship governance. It shows how the United Nations together with states can draw from their own traditions to develop new, effective regimes of trusteeship for the global commons.
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Chapter 9: Conclusion: there is another way

Klaus Bosselmann


Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was. Dag Hammarskjold. Shifting from states to earth as the centre of environmental governance is not really one of choice, but one of necessity. As long as innovative ideas are exclusively derived from what states are willing to support, no genuine progress will be made. This has been the problem of the United Nations from day one when it began to address the global environmental crisis at the 1972 Stockholm Conference. There has never been enough support for effective institutional reform. States allowed for a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), but no World Environment Organization; negotiations, but no trusteeship; political declarations, but no binding law; and talk, but no action. The global environmental crisis has been fitted into existing practices and institutional arrangements, rather than the other way round: if existing arrangements are insufficient to meet ecological challenges, they need to be changed.

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