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Essential resources do more than satisfy people's needs. They ensure a dignified existence. Since the competition for essential resources, particularly fresh water and arable land, is increasing, and standard legal institutions, such as property rights and national border controls, are strangling access to resources for some while delivering prosperity to others, many are searching for ways to ensure their fair distribution.
Governing Access to Essential Resources argues that essential resources ought to be governed by a combination of Voice and Reflexivity. Voice is the ability of social groups to choose the rules by which they are governed. Reflexivity is the opportunity to question one's own preferences in light of competing claims and to accommodate them in a collective learning process. Having investigated the allocation of essential resources in places as varied as Cambodia, China, India, Kenya, Laos, Morocco, Nepal, the arid American West, and peri-urban areas in West Africa, the contributors to Governing Access to Essential Resources largely concur with the viability of this policy and normative framework. Drawing on their expertise in law, environmental studies, anthropology, history, political science, and economics, they weigh the potential of Voice and Reflexivity against such alternatives as the pricing mechanism, property rights, common resource management, political might, or brute force.
Katharina Pistor teaches at Columbia Law School and directs its Center on Global Legal Transformation. She is widely recognized for her scholarship on privatization, property rights, comparative corporate law and governance, and law and finance. In 2012, she was a co-awardee of the Max Planck Research Award for her work on International Financial Regulation.
Olivier De Schutter teaches international law at the University of Louvain (UCL) and SciencesPo (Paris). A specialist in economic and social rights, he is a former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food and currently serves as a member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. He has held visiting professorships at Columbia University, New York University, and at the University of California, Berkeley.