n African Human Rights Law Journal - Privatisation of water in Southern Africa : a human rights perspective




As is the case elsewhere, privatisation in Southern Africa has since the 1990s extended to the provision of basic services. Controversy surrounds the issue whether the involvement of the private sector in the provision of basic services could enhance the enjoyment of the socio-economic rights relating to those services. This article argues that, while privatisation as a policy per se may not be objectionable, human rights law prescribes standards to which privatisation measures must conform. Southern African countries have certain socio-economic rights obligations emanating from CESCR, the African Charter and their domestic constitutions. It is argued that privatisation does not mean a delegation of state obligations in relation to human rights, although the question of privatisation has reinforced the call for the recognition of human rights obligations of private actors as well. Some of the obligations that states have in the context of the privatisation of water are explored.


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