Res Publica

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 21–35 | Cite as

Shared Sovereignty over Migratory Natural Resources

  • Alejandra MancillaEmail author


With growing vigor, political philosophers have started questioning the Westphalian system of states as the main actors in the international arena and, within it, the doctrine of Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources. In this article I add to these questionings by showing that, when it comes to migratory natural resources, i.e., migratory species, a plausible theory of territorial rights should advocate a regime of shared sovereignty among states. This means that one single entity should represent their interests and maybe also those of third parties, managing and making decisions over the resource as a whole. Although such a regime might be the tacit goal of existing international conventions regarding wildlife, it remains untheorized in political philosophy and largely under-theorized in international law. By presenting the critical situation of the monarch butterfly in North America, I point to the inadequacy of the compartmentalized current regime, which generates injustice in migration; namely, the phenomenon whereby range states of a given species may neglect or over-exploit it while in their territory, to the detriment of others. I suggest that more flexible and imaginative governance arrangements are needed to deal in a better way with these and similar natural resources.


Shared sovereignty Migratory species Natural resources Monarch butterfly 



For their insightful comments on earlier drafts, I thank the participants at the PPPE Club and the Conference Ecological Challenges (University of Oslo), the Annual Conference of the Association for Legal and Social Philosophy (University of Leeds), and the Mancept Workshop on Animal Rights and Political Theory (University of Manchester). I am also thankful for their written feedback to Megan Blomfield, Lars Christie, Alfonso Donoso, Avery Kolers, Kerstin Reibold, Scott Wisor and an anonymous referee of this journal. Finally, I thank Douglas Tallamy, Lincoln Brower and Jorge Zeballo for detailed scientific information about the monarch’s decline. This work was partly supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme, Project Number 179566/V20.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN), Faculty of HumanitiesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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