Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

The human right to water has a value

Please note this blog was updated on 25 April 2013 to reflect the fact the clip which is discussed was produced in 2005 and Peter Brabeck has since updated his position - that water is a human right, but not a free good

In an interview produced for the documentary We Feed the World, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck claimed that considering water a human right is an extreme solution. The video, which has recently been circulating in social media, is in fact from 2005 and Brabeck has since updated his position. However, it highlights the most common misconception about the human rights to water and sanitation which is still prevalent today - that it entails an obligation to provide a free supply of water to meet people's basic needs.

 

In the 2005 interview for the documentary We Feed the World, Nestlé Chairman Peter Brabeck claimed that considering water a human right is an extreme solution and that water should be privatised and valued as a commodity.

In the debate around whether or not to privatise water resources, Brabeck presented two opposing options; one, which he labeled as the ‘extremist’ NGO view, considers that water should be a public good. He says, "The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs who bang on about declaring water a public right, that means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That's an extreme solution."

 

Brabeck is promoting the most common misconception about the human right to water, that it entails an obligation to provide a free supply of water to meet peoples basic needs

 

The other view, which Brabeck supported, is that water is a valuable raw material and a foodstuff and so like any other should have a market value. With this, Brabeck was promoting the most common misconception about the human right to water, that it entails an obligation to provide a free supply of water to meet people's basic needs. This is incorrect, the human rights principles are clear, water should be affordable, for all.

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