Special Issue on Non-Territorial Governance

Journal of Special Jurisdictions

This special issue’s topic is non-territorial governance. We sought papers that explored the relationship between non-territorial forms of governance, such as blockchain, the internet and distributed communities, and special jurisdictions, including Special Economic Zones and other forms of Startup Societies. We decided to put these two “hot topics” together based on their individual potential to transform, improve upon or, at least, facilitate governance as we know it today.

Our aim was attracting papers that pushed the boundaries of knowledge in the fields of governance, economics, political science and law. Indeed, we received papers that explore how and why conditions particular to special jurisdictions allow for easier implementation of innovative, non-territorial forms of governance. However, we also received papers that discuss the potential of non-territorial forms of governance to structure special jurisdictions. Our authors successfully walked the fine line between academic rigor and presenting new, non-mainstream governance ideas by recognizing some of their limitations.

For this issue, we have selected four papers. One is a case study, and three are exploratory works. This issue discusses papers discussing non-territorial forms of governance, such as ULEX, cryptodemocracy (futarchy, quadratic voting and epistocracy), and blockchain-based governance. It also includes works about forms of governance that have a different relation to the territory, such as zone-based governance and seasteading. The case study we include focuses on one key example of a special jurisdiction, the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. These papers discuss bold, yet feasible, forms of governance. Some already exist. Others are yet to be tried. Still, the selected papers embody today’s crème de la crème of potential non-territorial governance, Startup Societies and next-generation Special Economic Zones.

Our first paper is by Professor Tom W. Bell. Bell’s paper explores an open-source legal system, ULEX, based on the Restatements of Common Law, and other established private sources of law. Bell proposes ULEX as a sound mechanism for communities spread across the globe to solve disputes among its members. The second paper is by Carl Hooks and Sebastian Reil. Hooks and Reil test different hypothesises behind Shenzhen’s success, and use their findings to explore how lessons from this successful Special Economic Zone translate to non-territorial forms of governance. The paper is based on the author’s six day field trip to Shenzhen.  The third paper, by Patri Friedman and Brad Taylor discusses forms of governance based on zones, floating communities on the ocean and blockchain, which, by allowing entrepreneurial entry to the governance industry, could potentially break existing entry barriers. Lastly, our fourth paper, by Darcy Allen and Aaron Lane looks, at cryprodemocracy. This is a blockchain-based system which extends the voting capabilities of contemporary democratic systems. The authors recognize the limitations of current one-person-one-vote democracies and look at zones as potential test beds for cryptodemocratic systems such as futarchy, quadratic voting and epistocracy.


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