James Love on the Ten Laws of the Natural Commons

This blog’s key interest is on the cultural Commons. The following laws, distilled by James Love, concern our physical commons, and were recently published in the On the Commons blog. Read the full entry for its context.
“Ten Tenets: the Law of the Commons of the Natural World

1) The commons shall be passed on to future generations unimpaired. E.g., Montana Constitution: Article ix: environment and natural resources National Park Service Organic Act, 16 U.S.C.1.

2) All commoners have equal access to the commons and use by commoners will be allocated without discrimination. E.g., Alaska Permanent Fund.

3) Government’s key responsibility is to serve as a trustee of the commons. E.g., Lake Michigan Federation v. Army Corps of Engineers, 742 F. 2d 441 (N.D. Ill. 1990), Source: Public trust doctrine.

4) The commons do not belong to the state but belong to commoners, the public. E.g., Public Trust Doctrine.

5) Some commons are the common heritage of all humans and other living beings. Common heritage establishes the right of commoners to those places and goods in perpetuity. This right may not be alienated. The Common Heritage law is a limit on one government’s sovereignty to claim economic jurisdiction and exclude some commoners from their share. E.g., the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, article 136 and 137.

6) The precautionary principle is the most useful tool for protecting the commons for this and future generations. E.g., San Francisco precautionary principle ordinance.

7) Eminent domain is the legal process for moving private property into the commons and shall be used exclusively for that purpose. Source: Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

8) Infrastructure necessary for humans and other beings to be fully biological and social creatures will reside within the domain of the commons. The positive benefits (externalities) of the commons shall accrue to all commoners. E.g., Alaska Permanent Fund.

9) Because the commons are the foundation of the economy, commerce and private property shall not externalize damage or costs onto the commons. E.g., Florida Polluter Pay Constitutional Provision.

10) Damage to or loss of the commons shall be compensated to all commoners. E.g., Alaska Permanent Fund.

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