22 March 2010

Water and human rights -- overview

I have written a paper on this topic* that's entitled "Water rights and human rights: The poor will not need our charity if we need their water"

Many people have strong feelings on this topic, and I hope that they will read, contemplate and comment on it.

I have decided to present the paper in a serial manner, posting a chunk each weekday on this blog (starting this afternoon), to give everyone the opportunity of reading it in bite-sized chunks. There will be ten more posts.

In the serialization, I have omitted footnotes and references for the sake of flow.

If you want to read the entire paper or see those extra details, go ahead and download the paper from here. (You can comment on the paper at this post or by email.)

Addendum: This one-click download should give you the PDF directly.

So, let's begin with the abstract:
Each year, about 2.8 million people die due to problems with poor water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Over three-quarters of the dead are children. Some argue that a human right to clean water would improve this situation. This paper shows that human rights have not improved access to clean water and argues that it would be more productive to give people a property right to water. Because property rights - unlike human rights - are alienable, some portion of an individual's rights can be exchanged for access to clean water. Besides this basic equity outcome, property rights could enrich the poor, increase the efficient use of water, and improve water supply reliability in countries with poor governance.
In tomorrow afternoon's episode, we'll see why Article 31 (A UN Declaration of a human right to water) may sound good on paper but accomplish nothing.

* This paper was partially supported by the SmartMarkets Inc. Global R & D Bootstrap Fund.

1 comment:

shahram said...

Excellent & insightful paper. Congratulation on getting it published on Forbes. Hopefully it will be widely read.