What will I learn?

Public interests and private relationships are closely intertwined. On the one hand, public interests are not only regulated by public powers but also by private actors. On the other hand, private regulations bear numerous limitations for the sake of public interests. Thus one might say that private relationships contribute to the governance of public interests, and are at the same time governed by them.

Good governance and social sustainability

The public interests affecting a certain type of private relationship are numerous and often conflicting with each other. The essence of good governance is finding the best balance of the public and private interests involved in a certain social situation.

The vast majority of social relationships are private relationships. Therefore, the way in which these relationships are governed is decisive for the sustainability of a society. Sustainability is a long-term public interest, which often clashes with other, mostly short-term, private or collective interests (for example, the interest in gaining the highest possible sum of money within the shortest possible time). Appropriate governance mechanisms are required in order to let the public interest in sustainability prevail over other, shorter-sighted, interests.

Supranational level

Public interests and private relationships interact in many ways, at both the national and supranational level. One of these interactions touches upon the very foundation of conflict of laws. Under certain circumstances, a national regulation of private relationships finds application also in other countries. Thus indirectly, the public/private governance aspects of a national regulation affect also other countries, what could raise justification problems.

Private actors, e.g. multinational corporations or NGO’s, play an important role also in the field of public international law and global governance. One of the issues arising in this regard is to what extent human rights pose obligations upon private actors.

Which department am I in?

Faculty of Law

Study options

Full Time (3 - 4 years)

Tuition fees
Information not available

Please check with institution

Start date

3 February 2020, 1 September 2020


University of Groningen


9700, Netherlands

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Other English Language requirements: TOEFL computer based - 237; TOEFL paper based - 580.

For international students

Possession of a Master’s degree or equivalent in a discipline that is directly or closely related to the discipline in which the PhD research will take place. The degree must have been gained within a reasonable period of time and with marks that justify the expectation that you will be able to complete the PhD programme.

The minimum criteria that are required for IELTS or TOEFL are:

IELTS: a score of > 7.0, all section scores should at least be 6.5 plus a writing score of at least 7.0

TOEFL: a score of > 100, all section scores should at least be 23 plus a writing score of at least 25


About this uni

The University of Groningen is a top 100 university with students from over 120 countries.

  • Ranked 79th in THE World University Rankings
  • Offers 45 world-class bachelor’s programmes
  • Provides 160 highly-ranked master’s programmes
  • Groningen is chosen as one of the happiest cities in Europe