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Earth Governance

Trusteeship of the Global Commons Klaus Bosselmann, Professor of Law and Director, New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand
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.
Extent: 320 pp
Hardback Price: $135.00 Web: $121.50
Publication Date: 2015
ISBN: 978 1 78347 781 4
Availability: In Stock
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  • Environment
  • Environmental Governance and Regulation
  • Environmental Law
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
  • Law - Academic
  • Environmental Law
  • Politics and Public Policy
  • Environmental Politics and Policy
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.

Earth Governance shows how the United Nations, together with states, can draw from their own traditions to develop new, effective regimes of environmental trusteeship. Klaus Bosselmann argues that the integrity of the earth’s ecological system depends on institutional reform, and that only an ethic of stewardship and trusteeship will create the institutions, laws and policies powerful enough to reclaim and protect the global commons.

This comprehensive exploration of environmental governance will appeal to scholars and students of environmental law, and international law and relations, as well as to UN and government officials and policymakers.


‘Written by one of the most prolific and provocative thinkers of our time, Klaus Bosselmann’s latest book is set to reaffirm his rank among the leading environmental law scholars in the world. Bosselmann cogently argues that we live in deeply troubling times, characterized as they are by unprecedented socio-ecological upheaval. His vision is of a global governance order that is centred on the Earth as an integrated whole and that seeks to protect the Earth’s ecological integrity, especially insofar as the global commons are concerned. This book is an original, timely and very welcome (juridical) addition to the growing body of Earth system governance literature.’
– Louis J. Kotzé, North-West University, South Africa, University of Lincoln, UK and Deputy-Director of the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment

‘Klaus Bosselmann provides a subtle and masterful overview of the limits of contemporary law and nation-state governance in solving our planetary ecological catastrophes. Even better, he offers a range of practical and attractive alternatives, most notably the commons and new forms of trusteeship. We must promptly adopt these new/old legal forms in order to overcome compulsive economic growth and the delusions of national sovereignty, and to honor our actual dependence on the more-than-human world. This book points the way forward.’
– David Bollier, author of Think Like a Commoner and cofounder of the Commons Strategies Group

‘This book takes a fresh look at governance of the environment, from the long-neglected perspective of international trusteeship: What if sovereign states were not the legal “owners” of our planet’s common natural resources, but mere “trustees” on behalf of people (present and future) as the ultimate beneficiaries? Thoroughly documented and brilliantly pleaded, Bosselmann’s work opens a whole new research agenda on how to hold governments and international organizations accountable to citizens in an age of global environmental democracy.’
– Peter H. Sand, University of Munich, Germany
Contents: 1. World at a Tipping Point 2. Framing Earth Governance 3. Commons 4. The Global Commons 5. Trusteeship 6. State as Environmental Trustee 7. Trusteeship and the United Nations 8. Institutionalizing Trusteeship for the Global Commons Conclusion: There is Another Way Bibliography Index