Privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation: report

Published
21 July 2020
Issued by
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation
Presented
At the 75th session of the GA
Link:

A/75/208

Friendly version of the Special Rapporteur's report on progressive realization (English | Français | Español)

Background

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, Léo Heller, focused his report to the 75th session of the General Assembly on privatization and the human rights to water and sanitation. For the preparation of this report, the Special Rapporteur consulted as many stakeholders as possible:

Timeline of the consultation process

13 September 2019: Expert consultation in Geneva
The Special Rapporteur invited 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 closed. See Concept note and guiding questions for the online bilateral consultation. See also work 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 held a half-day consultation with private service providers in New York. For more information, please contact: Mr. Thomas Van Waeyenberge

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 held 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. (Flyer)

Summary

A common narrative in the human rights community is that human rights are agnostic towards the type of water and sanitation provision and provider. This report challenges that common narrative and departs from the premise that there exist specific risks to the enjoyment of the human rights to water and sanitation when water and sanitation services are privatized and therefore, that it is necessary to explore the legal, theoretical and empirical dimensions of those risks. The Special Rapporteur discusses those risks based on a combination of three factors related to the private provision: profit maximization, the natural monopoly of services and power imbalances. Using this analytical framework, he identifies different risks, including the lack of usage of the maximum of available resources, deterioration of services, unaffordable access, the neglect of sustainability and accountability and inequality. He also provides recommendations to States and other actors to address and mitigate those risks.

Inputs received

In line with previous practice, the Special Rapporteur sought input from States and non-State actors by distributing a questionnaire in December 2019. All concerned stakeholders were invited to submit their contributions by responding to the questionnaire no later than 31 January 2020. The Special Rapporteur considered late submissions received by 2 March 2020.

Questionnaire to States: English | Français | Español

Questionnaire to civil society organizations: English | Français | Español

States

Non-States

* Late submissions received after 2 March 2020


Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation
Recent thematic reports
Issues in focus
Contact information

Mr. Pedro Arrojo-Agudo, Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation

OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneve 10, Switzerland

 

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