Privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation
Although, traditionally, the provision of water and sanitation services to populations was a responsibility primarily undertaken by governments, and the public bodies under their control, in the late 20th century the role of private entities expanded around the world. Through various legal arrangements, private companies have been afforded a greater presence in the sector, and, resultantly, their operations have come to affect the outcomes of service provision of a significant amount of the global population.
The role of the private sector in substantive provision of water and sanitation engenders a need to consider the impact of these entities in particular, although risks to human rights also exist within models that are wholly publicly operated, or where the role of the private sector is more subsidiary such as the supply of materials, or the maintenance of infrastructure.
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, Léo Heller, will focus his 2020 report on privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation.
Timeline of the consultation process
For the preparation of this report, the Special Rapporteur plans to consult as many stakeholders as possible and lays out his plans for consultation below.
13 September 2019: Expert consultation in Geneva
The Special Rapporteur will invite selected experts to discuss risks to human rights arising from private sector participation.
See concept note.
18 September – 30 October 2019: Online bilateral consultation
Sign-up for the online bilateral consultation is now available.
Concept note and guiding questions for the online bilateral consultation is also available.
See also working in progress
background paper for further information.
17 October 2019: Consultation with private service providers in New York
In cooperation with AquaFed, the International Federation of Private Water Operators, the Special Rapporteur will hold a half-day consultation with private service providers in New York. To participate and to be involved, please contact: Mr. Thomas Van Waeyenberge <firstname.lastname@example.org>
21 October 2019: Public consultation in New York
Together with Franciscans International, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation is organizing a public consultation on his next thematic report to the General Assembly in 2020 on the privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation.
December 2019: Questionnaire to States and non-State actors
In line with previous practice, the Special Rapporteur is will seeking input from States and non-State actors by distributing a questionnaire.
All concerned stakeholders are invited to submit their contributions by responding to the questionnaire no later than 31 January 2020. Due to limited capacity for translation, it is kindly requested that responses be submitted, if possible, in English, French or Spanish.
All responses will be posted on the official webpage of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, unless it is indicated that the submission and/or the supporting documentation should be kept confidential.
Kindly submit response to
Questionnaire to States: English | French | Spanish
Questionnaire to civil society organizations: English | French | Spanish