The concept " developed in fine detail by Canadian philosopher John McMurtry in the 1990s (cf. this review of the first book of his in which it is presented, Unequal Freedoms: http://arts.uwaterloo.ca/~kwesthue/cnt-mcm.htm) and has now become mainstream in the human and social sciences (e.g. the 2011 special edition of the scholarly journal Studies in Social Justice devoted to the civil commons: http://ojs.uwindsor.ca/ojs/leddy/index.php/SSJ/issue/view/367; incidentally, in this issue you can find a contribution penned by myself, Giorgio Baruchello, a philosopher, and Dr Rachael Johnstone, a legal scholar, in which the ICESCR is discussed as a token of civil commons).
Moreover, McMurtry has been an Honorary Theme Editor for UNESCO’s gargantuan Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems, which itself should be known better among economists who are interested in the notion of the commons.
There is an unfortunate and notorious tendency to disciplinary self-enclosure that limits the circulation of ideas within the many branches of modern academia."
McMurtry, John, Unequal Freedoms, Toronto: Garamond (1998)
McMurtry, John, The Cancer Stage of Capitalism, London: Pluto Press (1999; 2nd ed. 2013)
McMurtry, John, Value Wars, London: Pluto Press (2002)