Implementing the human right to water in the context of increasing bottled water consumption: Governing at the intersection of water justice, rights, and ethics

Authors: Raul Pacheco-Vega*, Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economica (CIDE)
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Water Resources and Hydrology, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: bottled water, water justice, water ethics
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Maurepas, Sheraton, 3rd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Water offers an inherent paradox because of its uneven and often inequitable global availability and wide-ranging variability in distribution and consumption. Even though the human right to water as enacted by the United Nations’ 2010 Resolution has been touted as a global norm that every country ought to achieve there is still more than a billion people who lack access to safe and sufficient sources of water. Water, a common pool resource (or commons) and a commodity that is extracted, traded and distributed across the globe, the rise of bottled water offers a second-level paradox: how can governments ensure that every individual at the sub-national level can have access to enough of the vital liquid to survive and thrive, without blocking industrial production of packaged water? In this paper I examine these two paradoxes in light of a theoretical framework that integrates water justice, rights and ethics. I use this framework to discuss two empirical case studies: the usage of bottled water during the recent Mexico City earthquake and denial of the human right to water in the Mexican city of Jesus Maria by a National Justice Supreme Court decision. Through a content and discourse analysis of Mexican newspaper coverage, I argue that implementing the human right to water is fraught with a number of theoretical and practical issues. Thus, the idea of decommodifying water and shutting down the global bottled water industry so that the human right to water can be enacted globally is more complicated than thought of.

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