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Argument: Enforcement mechanisms for a global commons are very poor

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  • The Folly of Res Communis - "A legal concept that a thing ('res') is owned in common by the community ('communis') is not well known to the average person, but it underpins the law of international waters and the law of space. And it really needs to go.
I. Enforcement: The concept of res communis when applied internationally (as opposed to internally, as when a state holds property within its jurisdiction and calls them community property) is incredibly difficult to enforce. If a group of citizens claiming no nationality or a new nationality tried to set up a new country in an area declared by treaty or convention as commonly held by the people of Earth (like the moon or international waters) then who's going to stop them? The UN doesn't really have the mandate for it, but neither does it have the credibility or police for it. Individual countries like the US might step up and do it, but that's prone to biased enforcement. More likely international courts would be brought in to deal with the issue, but how can international courts apply to people that don't recognize the court and aren't nationals of a signatory country? Naturally some courts (see: ICC) try to claim universal jurisdiction, but that's a problematic concept with very limited support.
Ultimately, if in the future somebody tried to set up a country in an area considered res communis then there wouldn't be a lot that countries would want to do to stop them."
It's the nature of owned property that the owner will protect the property. If international waters or the moon are owned in common by all of Earth, then all of Earth needs a property manager and rent-a-cops to protect the property. Otherwise it won't be protected. Somebody has to have the responsibility (and ideally the self-interest) to defend a property from being scavenged, polluted or squatted. By eliminating the privately-held and state-held options, only some IGO could be tasked with protecting these res communis areas, yet none satisfactorily exist. The closest thing is the International Seabed Authority, but it only relates to mineral-resource exploration and exploitation at the bottom of international waters; the moon, space, and of course the actual surface water of internationalw aters aren't really patrolled or policed."

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