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UNIJURIS Report Summary

Project ID: 336230
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Mid-Term Report Summary - UNIJURIS (Unilateralism and the protection of global interests: opportunities and limits of the exercise of state jurisdiction)

There is a willingness on the part of individual states and the EU to single-handedly address global governance challenges, such as climate change, foreign corruption, and unsustainable fishing. They do so not only by regulating harmful conduct on their own territory but also harmful foreign or global conduct insofar as the operators causing the harm have a personal, or more often territorial, link to the regulator. Thus, a number of states have clamped down on foreign corrupt practices of their national corporations or of foreign corporations using the national financial system. The EU has proved willing to include aircraft emissions outside EU airspace in its compulsory emissions trading scheme. Furthermore states have denied port access to foreign vessels engaged in illegal, unreported, or unsustainable fisheries on the high seas, or, in some cases, they have started administrative or criminal proceedings in port. The legal basis of such action is typically the principle of territoriality. However, this project argues that, in reality, this regulatory practice has effects abroad, or at least takes into account foreign conduct, and thus territoriality in itself does not explain the practice. It appears instead that it is justified by a combination of a substantial connection to the regulator and the desire to protect common concerns or global values. Clarity regarding the legal basis of unilateral action in the common interest may increase the prevalence of such action in the face of multilateral governance failures. Research results demonstrate, however, that considerations regarding the national/regional interest, resource limitations in an era of austerity, and foreign protest (may) limit bold unilateral action.

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