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Private water operators “…celebrate the recognition of the Human Right to water and sanitation”

Friday, July 30, 2010

Reiterating my previous post that international human rights law is basically agnostic with respect to the choice of ownership, you will now find an interesting press release from Aquafed, the federation of 300 strong private water providers.

In a July 29 Press Release, Aquafed conveyed that private water operators “…celebrate the recognition of the Human Right to water and sanitation by the United Nations General Assembly.” Furthermore, they call that the resolution “…must be used to turn the Right into a Reality for the billions of people who do not enjoy proper water services”.

Certainly, Aquafed are suggesting implicitly (and explicitly in its other submissions to the HRC) that the private sector are among those who can turn the right to water into reality.

Read Aquafed’s Press Release, along with its involvement in the right to water process here.


Anti-privatization movement must now stop advocating alternative service provision using the language of human rights. As I argued previously:

Just to note, literature provide explanation as to the genealogy of the right to water movement (see paper by Bakker here – you may need an access). On the one hand, there is the anti-privatization movement which utilizes the language of human right to water in their campaign against privatization and on the other hand, there is the ‘alter-globalization’ movement which also seeks to foreclose the neoliberalization of waterresources and services but does not utilize the language of human rights. They use the language of the ‘commons’ instead.

Bakker noted in her paper that the campaign against privatization by utilizing the human right to water language are prone to fallacies. Indeed, right to water activists tend to conflate human rights with property rights. If water is a human right, then it should not be a commodity – they think. This is inherently wrong. The right to life does not entitle you not to pay the emergency room service fee, or your medication. The same works for the right to food or education and other rights. Water is by no means different from them.