Chronicle

Governing the Commons
July 13, 2013

On July 13, 2013 in the Conference Center of the Center for Urban History Tetyana Montyan conducted a presentation of her translation of Nobel Laureate Elinor Ostrom’s "Governing the Commons".

The primary idea of the book lies in the American scholar’s argument that the world’s most immediate problems – from the protection of the neighboring environment, the functionality of a financial system, to social inequality – are best addressed by collective, concordant action, in as much as our small planet is a priori a shared resource, the governance of it can only be a collective governance, driven by an established, scientifically sound methodology. What are the fundamental methods of cooperation necessary to overcome selfish tendencies? Why does one collective (community, people, nation) achieve success while another despite the passage of centuries is unable to find its way out of misery and collapse?

Elinor Ostrom argued that common resources are best managed not by government agencies or private enterprises, but by the people who directly draw on those resources. Her idea is no utopian theory along the lines of Thomas Moore or Karl Marx, but a systematic structural analysis of actual institutions which operate successfully over the course of many centuries.

Following a short coffee break we had an opportunity to discuss the theme "Ownership and Property Rights in Ukraine". Included under this topic were a look at who truly owns some Lviv structures, and a method of forming and managing an effective Apartment Owners Collective. Examples drawn from other countries were demonstrated on the advantage of self-organizing residential populations. In addition, we raised the issues of privatization, relations between residents and Public Utilities Commissions, escalating prices, services, means of resistance to and prevention of emerging "utility mafias".

Organizers of the event included the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, the “Effective Owner” Humanitarian Group and lypneva.com.

Tetyana Montyan is a Ukrainian legal expert, attorney, journalist, civic activist, and blogger. She attended Lomonsov State University Law School specializing in constitutional law. She worked in the Moscow Criminal Investigation department. Now in temporary hiatus from her criminal law practice, Tetyana has dedicated herself to civil and economic law, specifically the design of mechanisms for the regulation of disputes over common properties, and the reform of property rights registration.