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Thematic reports

A/75/208: Human rights and the privatization of water and sanitation services


21 July 2020

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Water and sanitation


A common narrative in the human rights community is that human rights are neutral towards the type of water and sanitation provision and provider. The present report challenges this narrative. In the report, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller, starts from the premise that specific risks to the enjoyment of the human rights to water and sanitation in situations of privatization exist, and that the exploration of the legal, theoretical and empirical dimensions of these risks is necessary and relevant. The Special Rapporteur discusses those risks based on a combination of three factors related to the private provision of water and sanitation: 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, the deterioration of services, unaffordable access, the neglect of sustainability, the lack of accountability and inequality. He also provides recommendations to States and other actors to address and mitigate those risks.



Issued By:

Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

Delivered To:

the General Assembly at its 75th session