Programme  OS2a Trade and globalisation  abstract 286

Water and Free Trade Agreements

Author(s): Pablo Solón, Miguel Solanes, Denisse Rodríguez, Rene Orellana, Howard Mann
Juan Carlos Alurralde is a water resources engineer with an MSc in irrigation. He is currently the executive director of Agua Sustentable (Sustainable Water), an NGO active in participatory water legislation development in Bolivia. IDRC is supporting Alur

Keyword(s): water, free trade agreements, Bilateral Investment Agreements, FTA, BIT, Trade, arbitration

Article: abs286_article.pdf
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Session: OS2a Trade and globalisation
AbstractVery few water experts are aware that water resources

and water services may be subjected to the terms of investment and trade agreements, the circumstances and

conditions of trade accords change perceptions about national jurisdiction and control of water resources and public

utilities in ways that are often not anticipated and can have negative social and economic impacts.


Argentina, Bolivia, and Peru are currently being sued under the terms of investment and trade agreements, for

conflicts resulting from water utilities and control of water resources. These cases are not heard by national courts

but by arbitration tribunals, which apply international investment law and procedure, but with many outcomes that

occur locally.

The objective of the paper is to discuss the links and impacts between integrated water

management and Free Trade Agreements, Bilateral Investment Agreements, and the international dispute systems

established under such agreements. Discussion topics included local level impacts in terms of environmental

protection, access to water supply and sanitation, protection of local and indigenous rights, affordability of water

services, income distribution and the regulatory systems addressing these issues. The paper aims to create awareness

about the relation between FTAs, BITs and integrated water resources management, to identify provisions and

principles that would balance the contents of FTA’s and Bit’s in relation to human, environmental and social

concerns and to Identify and suggest criteria to be applied by arbitration courts to balance economic, social and

environmental concerns.

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