22 Jun 2018

Common Concern conference showcases project conclusions

The WTI’s Common Concern project held a conference at the institute on 22 and 23 June to present its initial conclusions.

Over the past three years the project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation has explored the theoretical formation of the norm of common concern of humankind and examined the possibility of it being applied in different international legal regimes, both traditional (e.g. human rights, climate change and trade) and emerging (monetary regulation, income inequality).

In addition to its theoretical part the project comprises four in-depth case studies exploring the potential of the principle in the fields of climate change; biodiversity, with a particular focus on the law of the sea; monetary affairs, and corporate responsibility and human rights.

The conference gave team members an opportunity to present before an expert audience the theoretical positions taken in the project and brief on specific findings regarding the case studies.

The opening session looked at the principle of common concern of humankind. Professor Thomas Cottier, who leads the project, explained that there was currently no agreement on what common concern means. “In this project, we have started to define it as depicting major problems that can’t be solved by single states,” he said. These major problems included climate change.

Over the next two days PhD candidates made presentations on the different case studies.

The event closed with two panels: one a general discussion and comments on the theoretical framework and the other on the extraterritoriality aspect of common concern. The panellists were Peter-Tobias Stoll, Duncan French, Oisin Suttle, Cedric Ryngaert, Claus Zimmermann and Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer.

There are plans to publish the papers presented in an edited volume.