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

  • Fariborz Zelli
Publishing year: 2007
Language: English
Publication/Series: Tübingen Working Papers / Tübinger Arbeitspapiere zur Internationalen Politik und Friedensforschung
Issue: 49
Document type: Working paper
Publisher: University of Tübingen, Center for International Relations

Abstract 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.


  • 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


  • Miljöpolitik-lup-obsolete
  • ISBN: ISBN 3-927604-46-1
Fariborz Zelli
E-mail: fariborz [dot] zelli [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Department of Political Science

+46 46 222 47 64



Associate professor

Department of Political Science



Fariborz is director of the NAVIGOV project. He received the outstanding Ph.D. thesis award of the University of Tübingen and the award for outstanding teaching performance of the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

Ongoing research projects

Department of Political Science
Lund University
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5H (House: Eden)
Postal address: Box 52, SE-221 00 LUND
Telephone: +46 46-222 89 52

Faculty of Social Sciences