Chapter 1 Introduction: democratic, institutional and legal implications of the commons for global governance
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The main purpose of this book is to understand what the ground-breaking model of cooperation of the commons implies for global governance, especially in relation to the debate on the (non)-democratic nature, institutions, and legal underpinnings of global governance. The research on the implications of the commons for our system of global governance is still scarce. The book therefore aims to contribute to fill the gap between the study of bottom-up commons and global governance. Global governance, which stands for ways of problem-solving cooperation that take place within global networks of relevant stakeholders, is indeed gradually substituting itself for the democratic deliberation within nation-states and comes to have more of a say over what political projects ought to be prioritized. In an interdependent and globalized world, a fair and representative system of global governance will therefore be critical to protect and promote the commons. Hence, we submit that the commons cannot only be studied at the micro-level, where they often emerge. While it is true that decision-making processes for the commons are generally locally owned, the commons also represent at a more macro-level a ‘third way’ to overcome the extractive forces of capitalism and the top-down logic of states. In this sense, the commons have evolved into an alternative ‘paradigm’ to rethink the traditional private-public divide, and prioritize the ecological and human needs of communities over market and state. Following this broader normative interpretation, this book explores the democratic, institutional and legal issues linked to the commons for global governance today. Based first on the study of the commons as vehicles for democratization of global governance, then on the assessment of the role played by commons-based institutions in the current global governance system, and finally on a more normative interrogation around what international law ought to look like to recognize and support the commons, this book will provide its reader with solid foundations to look further into the introduction of ‘commoning’ practices into global governance.

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