Tag Archives: norms

David Bollier, Think Like a Commoner: A Short Introduction to the Life of the Commons – Book Review (A. Grear)

Author

Anna Grear

Keywords

business as usual, collective commons, commoners, digital commons, dispossession, market, neoliberal ideology, norms, property rights, urban food production, values

Abstract

At a time when there is widespread disillusionment with ‘business as usual’, attention is turning, thanks in part to the high-profile publication of books such as Jeremy Rifkin’s, The Zero Marginal Cost Society, towards the notion of ‘collective commons’ as an
alternative paradigm to neoliberal free-market economics.

David Bollier’s book broadens the focus to identify the centrality of commons (and ‘commoning’) to an epochal shift in consciousness now emergent across the world. Such scholarship suggests that a fundamentally different mode of being appears to be surfacing from beneath neoliberal market hegemony and the assumptions of ‘business as usual’ – presenting a renaissance of something much more ancient in the light of which the free market economy and the rise of homo economicus stand revealed as a historical anomaly.

This book provides a short, engaging and important introduction to the commons and to the dynamics of commoning, while unsettling important mainstream assumptions underlying life in the ‘real world’ of neoliberal globalization and the duopoly of the state-market complex.

Citation

(2014) 5/2 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 213-9

Paper

David Bollier, Think Like a Commoner – Book Review

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New Norms and Knowledge in World Politics: Protecting People, Intellectual Property and the Environment (P. Stoeva)

Author

Preslava Stoeva

Keywords

Norms, international politics, international relations, environment, climate change, protection from torture, intellectual property rights

Abstract

This book examines the process of norm development and knowledge creation in international politics, and assesses these processes in case studies on protection from torture, intellectual property rights and climate change.

Drawing on the theories of constructivism and the sociology of scientific knowledge, author Preslava Stoeva demonstrates that international norms are a product of a sequence of closures and consensus reached at different social levels. She contends that it is this process which makes norms permeate the social and political fabric of international relations even before they become official principles of state behaviour. Proposing a theoretical model which indicates the stages of the development of norms, she studies the roles that various actors play in that process, together with the interplay of various types of power. Through this endeavour, this book succeeds in providing the reader with a better understanding of the social processes that lead to normative change in international relations.

New Norms and Knowledge in World Politics will be of interest to students, scholars and practitioners of international relations, comparative politics, globalization, sociology and anthropology.

Citation

Preslava Stoeva, New Norms and Knowledge in World Politics: Protecting People, Intellectual Property and the Environment (Taylor & Francis, 2009)

Book

New Norms and Knowledge in World Politics: Protecting People, Intellectual Property and the Environment

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International Norms Against Chemical and Biological Warfare (J.P. Zanders)

Author

Jean Pascal Zanders

Keywords

CBW, unnecessary suffering, international norms, security

Abstract

Chemical and biological weapons (CBW) bear a moral opprobrium as they are widely viewed as indiscriminate agents of unnecessary suffering. This immorality is often presented as an article of faith. However, the belief system cannot be the sole legal, political and social reality, as otherwise CBW should logically have been banished a long time ago. While there is a long history of legal and social constraints against these weapons, such constraints are never absolute. Three aspects that have affected the application of the norm are: the lack of perceived equality between warring parties, competing legal doctrines, and the impact of technological innovation on norms. Since the social context in which the norms are developed and applied changes continually, it becomes clear that these norms must be continuously redefined in order to remain relevant. The historical analysis also shows that existing international norms have never placed the professional scientists engaging in CBW-related activities in either a moral or an ethical vacuum. Indeed, activities permitted to states under international law and custom have provided ample justification for scientists to work on CBW in support of national security. Until today, national security considerations place a great strain on the global disarmament treaties governing the development, possession and use of CBW.

Citation

(2003) 8 Journal of Conflict & Security Law 391

Paper

International Norms Against Chemical and Biological Warfare: An Ambiguous Legacy

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Conscience and Interest: Law, Rights, and Politics in the Struggle to Confront Climate Change and the New Poverty (P.L. Joffe)

Author

Paul L. Joffe

Keywords

Global warming, sustainable development, international community, global public goods, politics, public interest, climate change, norms and morality

Abstract

In this article, I first explain how global warming has transformed the struggle to end global poverty and to achieve sustainable development. I suggest that the new situation creates special challenges due to the heightened need for global collective action to produce global public goods, namely unpolluted air and sustainable development.

I then address how the international community determines whether global collective action should be taken and what should be done, focusing in particular on the new poverty and global warming. This includes the history and role of treaties, policy initiatives, and human rights. To illuminate the nature of these and how they are related, I look back at some examples of thinking about rights and law during the seminal period of World War II and its aftermath.

Among other things, this history shows that our modern concept of human rights was heavily influenced by the desire of the United States and its allies during World War II to define the struggle in terms of the rights and freedoms for which the allies were fighting. Americans realized it is in our own national interest to recognize the rights of others. Today, in global warming, we face a new worldwide, revolutionary threat, but also opportunities, that demand unprecedented global cooperation. Unless we take prompt action, we face devastating impacts across the globe, with the poorest nations most exposed because they are less equipped to cope. On the other hand, if we undertake a far reaching transition to a clean energy future, we can reap the benefits of new technology, new sources of jobs, new markets, a cleaner and healthier environment, and stronger sustainable development worldwide.

To meet the threat and develop the opportunities, the international community has a jumble of fragmentary institutions, bits of hard law and large amounts of soft law, rights and obligations often indistinctly defined, and many policy initiatives of uncertain impact. I argue that confronting climate change presents a crisis of inadequacy for this system analogous to the crisis for international cooperation created by World War II. I urge the development of human rights law to help address the problems, but I also urge that we use treaties, policy initiatives, and human rights together to define the global public interest in confronting climate change and its impacts. The result may be a legal and policy landscape changed in some respects, but drawing on lessons of the past regarding the mobilizing force of the moral dimension of law.

Next, I look at the obstacles to collective action and the ways in which these obstacles can be overcome to achieve consensus on global warming, poverty, and sustainable development. This includes exploring how national and private interests can be adjusted to achieve the broader common good of the international community.

I argue that the effort to provide global public goods depends on a politics that creates space for the public interest. In confronting climate change, the public is discovering itself. It is discovering that, while citizens have private or group interests, they also have interests in common with everyone else. A law and politics of the public interest does not ignore narrow interests, but establishes a process to fairly accommodate both. The all-important question of how much weight to give to each and how to integrate them must take place through a democratic process. Approximating this on a global scale creates yet another great challenge.

Finally, I discuss the role of norms and morality and how they interact with interests in the effort to achieve collaboration needed to provide public goods. Increasingly, moral claims are raised on behalf of action to confront climate change. They play an important role in the field of human rights, which are based on ethical standards. Beyond modern human rights principles, however, I note that for centuries it was thought that morality was integral to the entire legal system and I suggest how we might learn from this as we try anew to address the common concerns of the international community.

Citation

(2009) 6 Rutgers Journal of Law & Public Policy 269

Paper

Conscience and Interest: Law, Rights, and Politics in the Struggle to Confront Climate Change and the New Poverty

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