Privatization and the Human Right to Water: Challenges for the New Century

This Note considers implications for the human fight to water in the context of the trend toward privatization of water supplies. Part II examines the legal bases of the right to water, and Part III discusses the potential obligations that arise from it. Part IV then looks at the interaction between the fight to water and arrangements to privatize water supplies. This Note posits that human rights law does not simply support or oppose privatization of water supplies and services. Rather, bringing a human rights perspective to the problem of providing water to the world’s population both clarifies the minimum obligations of governments and private companies when privatization is pursued and highlights practical difficulties that arise from privatization. The Note concludes in Part V that viewing the problem of how to ensure access to clean water for the global population through the lens of human rights clarifies goals and responsibilities and provides a legal framework for action.