The Int. Law Observer Blog is continuously looking for enthusiastic master student(s) or Ph.D. candidate(s) willing to assist with editorial work on the Blog. Interested? Find out more here.

Home » Academia, Call For Paper, Conference

Call for papers: Global Commons, Global Public Goods and Global Democracy, 22 and 23 February 2016

Submitted by on 26/08/2015 – 11:25 amNo Comment

* With thanks to Linda Hamid for bringing this to our attention.

Call for papers – global commons global public goods and global democracy

In the immediate aftermath of the end of the Cold War, the enthusiasm for cosmopolitan prospects led to a marked preoccupation for commonly-governed global goods. But this new interest took two very distinct routes. With the institutional support of the UNDP, a group of distinguished scholars coined the term “global public goods” to express and frame the challenges the reunited international community would urgently have to face. Drawing an analogy with the already-existing literature on public goods at the level of the nation-state, they suggested that a high-level of international coordination was required to overcome the structural underprovision of certain social goods on the global scene. The term has since then enjoyed a spectacular success and permeated much of the international policy discourse. Around the same time, many social activists across the world coalesced around the idea that “the world was not for sale”, i.e. that not all goods were meant to be commodified and that some areas of social life should remain governed as commons. The reference to a governance of the (global) commons as an alternative to both the state and the market became central in many transnational social movements and spread throughout the alterglobalization network.

As a consequence, we now have at our disposal two different concepts, relying on distinct analytical frameworks, to sketch how transnational goods could be governed collectively. Though these approaches partly overlap, they also hint at a different kind of literature and carry a different set of political implications. During this international workshop, we would like to scrutinize their respective relations to democracy, and more specifically their potential contribution to the advancement of democracy in global institutions. Does it make a difference, in a democratic perspective, to frame a collective action issue on the international scene as relating to the underprovision of global public goods or rather as the overconsumption of global commons? Do global commons and global public goods relate to different worldviews and reflect different preferences in terms of collective organization? Is one more attuned to the idea of a global democracy than the other?

The research on global public goods and global commons grew in a very multidisciplinary research environment. This international workshop would like to respect this spirit and invite scholars from a variety of disciplines such as political science, sociology, philosophy, political economy, and legal scholarship (the list is not exhaustive) to attend the event. We will welcome contributions from all scholars with an interest in the governance of global commons and global public goods and its relation to global democracy.

Inge Kaul and Pierre Dardot will each deliver a keynote speech at the conference.

Possible topics would include:
 Conceptual relation between commons, public goods and democracy – and its relevance at the global level
 Case studies of innovative governance practices of global commons and global public goods
 Comparative analysis of public goods and global public goods, commons and global commons, democracy and global democracy
 Epistemic networks behind the promotion of the concepts of global public goods and global commons in policy discourse
 The conceptualization of global commons, global public goods and global democracy in international law
 The role of international law in fostering a democratic governance of global commons and global public goods
 Political economy of global public goods and global commons, with an emphasis on their (re)distributive function
 The role of democracy in institutions combatting free rider behaviour
 The role of democracy in institutions managing the Commons
 Historical comparisons between distinct waves of enclosures

Submission of proposals
Proposals for papers (abstracts) should not exceed 500 words (excluding affiliation and contact details).
Proposals should be sent as an email attachment to: and
 Deadline for proposal submissions (abstract): 8th October 2015.
 Selection of papers will be completed by 25th October 2015.
 Full papers are to be delivered by 4th February 2016.

Selected papers will be invited for a contribution to an edited volume by a leading publisher or a special issue of a journal. Please indicate, when submitting abstracts, if your paper will be available for publication.

Academic Organizers
 Prof. Dr. Jan Wouters, Professor of International Law and Director Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven
 Dr. Amandine Orsini, Professor at Facultés universitaires Saint-Louis (Bruxelles)
 Dr. Gert Verschraegen, Professor at Universiteit Antwerpen
 Dr. Dries Lesage, Professor at Universiteit Gent
 Dr. Axel Marx, Deputy Director Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven
 Dr. Martin Deleixhe, coordinator for the research project ‘Global governance and democracy’, Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven

For more information please contact Martin Deleixhe at

LEUVEN CENTRE FOR GLOBAL GOVERNANCE STUDIES, an interdisciplinary research centre of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the KU Leuven. It was set up to promote, support and carry out high-quality international, innovative and interdisciplinary research on global governance. In addition to its fundamental research activities, the Centre carries out independent applied research and offers innovative policy advice and solutions to policy-makers on multilateral governance and global public policy issues. As from November 2010 the Centre hosts a seven-year research programme (2010-2017) on Global Governance and Democratic Government. This programme, conducted jointly with the Centre for Ethics, Social and Political Philosophy of KU Leuven, is aimed at the construction of a new paradigm for democratic global governance.

Last 5 posts by Professor Gentian Zyberi