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Public Goods, Common Pool Resources, and International Law

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 September 2017

J. Samuel Barkin
Professor, University of Massachusetts Boston, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance.
Yuliya Rashchupkina
PhD Candidate, University of Massachusetts Boston, Department of Conflict Resolution, Human Security, and Global Governance.


The concept of public goods is often operationalized in the literature as anything that demands some form of international cooperation. While this may be politically useful in generating international cooperation, it is analytically problematic for designing international law with the purpose of enhancing international cooperation. Many of the issues characterized as public goods are in fact common pool resources, which pose distinct issues for international cooperation and demand different legal architectures than public goods for effective international cooperation.

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Copyright © 2017 by The American Society of International Law 

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