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Fariborz Zelli

Fariborz Zelli

Professor | Principal Investigator BECC

Fariborz Zelli

The Provision of Conflicting Public Goods. Incompatibilities among Trade Regimes and Environmental Regimes


  • Fariborz Zelli

Summary, in English

From its early days, the academic debate on public goods has focused on discrepancies or trade-offs regarding the provision of public goods on the one hand and private goods on the other. However, both the extension of the public domain and an increasing interdependence in international relations clearly drive the expansion of an agenda in which there are a growing number of cases where public goods collide with each other. This trend is mirrored by an increase in conflicts among international regimes, since regimes either act as the legal providers of such goods or can be considered public goods themselves.
The working paper first outlines the logical nature of the connection between both kinds of conflicts and illustrates this relation by presenting examples of incompatibilities among free trade regimes and environmental regimes. Second, moving from description to analytical reflection, the article introduces and discusses an assumption about the outcome of regime conflicts. Based on the distinction of different types of public goods, this assumption predicts that those regimes providing designed public goods tend to prevail over regimes regulating pure public goods. This hypothesis will be applied to the conflict about the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), showing that complementary explanatory factors such as power constellations or regime design have to be taken into account.

Publishing year





Tübingen Working Papers / Tübinger Arbeitspapiere zur Internationalen Politik und Friedensforschung



Document type

Working paper


University of Tübingen, Center for International Relations


  • Political Science


  • Trade and environment
  • WTO
  • WTO law
  • global public goods
  • climate change
  • climate governance
  • environmental governance
  • interplay
  • fragmentation
  • complexity
  • United Nations
  • Kyoto Protocol
  • global governance
  • CBD
  • biodiversity



Research group

  • Miljöpolitik


  • ISBN: ISBN 3-927604-46-1