The Fragile Global Commons in a World in Transition

Commentaries and Op-eds November, 2016, SAIS Review


There are vast spaces of the earth that lie outside the sovereign jurisdiction of any single sovereign state, including much of the world’s oceans, the atmosphere, outer space, and the continent of Antarctica. Accessible to all, these “global commons” serve as vital zones for global connectivity, as well as a critical source for military power and environmental resources. Yet, they lack strong global institutions to govern them. This discussion considers how changes to the international order, driven by the rise of new actors, new technologies, and new tests to human and environmental security, pose risks to the future of global spaces shared by all.