11/30/2018 Tocqueville Lecture Series - Dalibor Rohac: “Polycentrism, Sovereignty, and International Cooperation”
The post-war period has seen a development of many forms of international cooperation. To understand this “Cambrian explosion” of new institutions, treaties, and various organizational forms—as well as their benefits and deficiencies—the polycentric approach developed by Elinor and Vincent Ostrom bears a much greater promise than the dichotomy between sovereignty and global governance that dominates current debates. The Ostroms’ research agenda was built to explain the features of successful bottom-up cooperation and rules-based systems, typically eschewed by neorealist accounts of international affairs. Because the Ostroms’ approach blends descriptive and analytical elements with normative ones—particularly manifest in Vincent Ostrom’s 1991 work, The Meaning of American Federalism—this research program is particularly well-suited as a starting point for a reflection about the viability and the needed reforms of the “liberal international order,” which is under attack from authoritarian populist candidates on both sides of the Atlantic.