Privatisation, extreme poverty and human rights: Report
The Special Rapporteur for extreme poverty
To the General Assembly at its 73rd session, 26 September 2018
Are private entities dedicated to maximising their own profits best placed to protect the rights of the community? Is it possible to privatise vital services in such a way as to ensure that the most vulnerable are not further disadvantaged? How could corporations ensure the rights of the least well-off without undermining their own profitability?
To begin answering some of these questions, the Special Rapporteur presented this thematic report on privatisation and its relation to extreme poverty to the GA at its 73rd session in September 2018.
Privatisation is generally presented as a technical solution for managing resources and reducing fiscal deficits, but in fact, it is an integral part of an economic and social philosophy of governance. Key international actors now promote it aggressively without regard to its human rights implications or consequences, while most human rights bodies have either ignored the phenomenon or assumed that tweaking existing procedures provides an adequate response.
Yet privatisation often involves the systematic elimination of human rights protections and further marginalisation of the interests of low-income earners and those living in poverty. Existing human rights accountability mechanisms are clearly inadequate for dealing with the challenges presented by large-scale and widespread privatisation.
Human rights proponents need to fundamentally reconsider their approach.