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The Uses of Common and Shared Natural Resources: A Tragedy or a Chance for Governance?

Maria A. Gwynn

Hardin has long claimed out that the uses of the commons is headed to an inevitably tragedy. In contrast, Ostrom argued that we can avoid tragedy by governing the commons. Though at extreme opposites, both are concerned with the sustainability of resources that are of common use and accessible to more than one individual. This paper analyses common natural resources and shared natural resources and assesses some of the international regulations for their uses and exploitation. The assessment provides results that contrast Hardin and Ostrom’s theories and provide evidence for the existence of transboundary cooperation beyond inter-State relations, which allows for a balance between the economic exploitation of said resources on the one hand and environmental protection on the other, as a key component for the management and sustainability of these resources.

University of Bonn, Institute for International Public Law.


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