30 Apr 2012
The Emerging Principle of Common Concern
NCCR Trade Regulation Working Paper No. 2012/20, authored by Thomas Cottier.
The principle of Common Concern offers the potential to rebalance international law based upon territoriality, sovereignty and lacking appropriate international institutions able to produce global public goods. The principle should be designed to address, in the first place, responsibilities of States in dealing with Common Concerns, both at home and abroad. The principle should entail responsibilities comprising the authority to act extraterritorially while respecting existing international agreements, and which partly may also assume obligations to do so in the pursuit of global common concerns. The implementation of unilateral or concerted measures and policies relating to defined areas of Common Concern in particular by large powers and markets will be met with opposition, resistance and perhaps retaliation. Government will invoke traditional precepts of sovereignty and sovereignty over natural resources. Yet, taking seriously Common Concerns as a right and obligation to address these concerns beyond territorial jurisdiction has to take these tensions into account and channel them towards the establishment of global governance able to deal with these matters more effectively and based upon commonly agreed rules. The principle of Common Concern provides the incentives working towards agreed regimes. It allows both for bottom up and top down approaches. It is the combination of the two which will bring about progress in international law and relations in addressing Common Concerns of Mankind.