Human rights in investor-State arbitration: The human right to water and beyond

Human rights arguments are increasingly being raised by parties in investor-State arbitrations, despite the fact that investment arbitration tribunals arguably “lack the jurisdiction to hold states liable for breach of their human rights obligations”, and the widespread concerns about their suitability to pronounce on such issues in a process that is often viewed as lacking accountability and transparency. Investment arbitration tribunals are also increasingly relying on human rights norms and jurisprudence of human rights courts in evaluating such arguments, thereby implicitly recognizing the interconnectedness between human rights and foreign investment protection and that the former can, and should, inform the latter.


Water remunicipalisation as a global trend

Cities, regions and countries worldwide are increasingly choosing to close the book on water privatisation and to “remunicipalise” services by taking back public control over water and sanitation management. In many cases, this is a response to the false promises of private operators and their failure to put the needs of communities before profit.

This paper (Here to stay: Water remunicipalisation as a global trend) looks at the growing remunicipalisation of water supply and sanitation services as an emerging global trend and presents the most complete overview of cases so far. Major cities that have remunicipalised include Accra (Ghana), Berlin (Germany), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Budapest (Hungary), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), La Paz (Bolivia), Maputo (Mozambique), and Paris (France). By contrast, in this same period there have been very few cases of privatisation in the world’s large cities: for example Nagpur (India), which has seen great opposition and criticism, and Jeddah (Saudi Arabia).


Water and Water Services in CETA

Stuart Trew, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Key Points

Unless otherwise noted, all Articles, Annexes and Appendices referenced in this section refer to the August 2014 final version of the CETA text first leaked by German broadcaster ARD and now available at

The treatment of water and water services in international trade agreements remains a controversial issue globally. Where trade and investment treaties like the CETA are designed to govern the supply of goods and services, and the regulation thereof, based on free-market principles, access to clean drinking water and sanitation is considered a basic human right by the United Nations, to be delivered by governments or other not-for-profit entities.


Critique of political economy of water and the collaborative alternative

The approach and recognition of the water (and in general, water supply and sanitation) as a commons, a social good and a fundamental human right or vice versa, as a commodity and / or as a means for taxing citizens determines the policy management: private, public, social, based or not on democratic participation of citizens and workers[1].

The results of the private management of water, which is applied worldwide, are now known: degradation of water quality, increased water loss, deterioration of infrastructure and increasing prices[1][2]. The results of the public or social or public-community, based on cooperation between public and local and regional bodies, cooperatives, trade unions and other collectives of a community are also known: accomplished citizen involvement, strengthened quality water services and lower prices[1][3].