2013 Winner: Neoliberalism, International Law, and the Failures of Privatized Water Systems to Increase Access to

Project Information
Neoliberalism, International Law, and the Failures of Privatized Water Systems to Increase Access to
Social Sciences
UCSC Legal Studies Capstone Course Winter 2013
In this paper I use the term ”global water crisis” to reflect the limited access to safe drinking and sanitation water that is particularly prevalent in the Global South. In responding to this crisis, International Law has supported a neoliberal ideology that favors water privatization as the primary way to extend water access to the least economically franchised peoples. However, International Law’s support of water privatization in the Global South has not produced its intended results. On the contrary, evidence suggests that water privatization has been overwhelmingly negative, especially for socially and economically disadvantaged communities. Through private water monopolies, full-cost recovery models, intentional and private exclusion of the poorest members of society, limited investments, and the decline of private involvement, those already extremely vulnerable to water scarcity remain without sufficient access to water. An examination of alternatives to private water monopolization demonstrates that certain private models with public-like qualities may be better able to serve impoverished peoples, especially if the marginalized participate in water management. Furthermore, cross-subsidies (taxing the wealthy to compensate for the poor), educational campaigns, and participation of the poor provide a realistic opportunity to change wealth inequalities that determine access to water. Finally, through a transnational organization dedicated to education and policy reform, and, that serves to connect advocates of public water reclamation, including disadvantaged communities, there is reinvigorated hope to transform public water availability in favor of those suffering the greatest.
  • Allison Bach (Kresge)