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Water and Free Trade Agreements

IWRA World Water Congress 2008 Montpellier France
2. Towards the Future: Water Resources and Global Changes
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

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. Yet, 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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