The Right of Access to Water in the Context of Investment Disputes in Argentina: Urbaser and Beyond

I recently published this article in the Utrecht Law Review. The full article can be accessed here.

Abstract

The privatisation of water through foreign investment has become a common occurrence throughout the world. In developing economies like Argentina, many people depend on their water supply from private companies, including foreign investors. Using Argentina as a case study, this article analyses of how the human right of access to water is applied and interpreted in international investment law. To this end, four Argentinian investment water disputes Azurix v. Argentina, AWG v. Argentina, Impregio v. Argentina and Urbaser v. Argentina concluded in the last 20 years are subjected to a comparative analysis. The evaluation of four tribunals’ decisions signals the reformative evolution that is taken place in international investment law. The most recent of the four cases (Urbaser v. Argentina) belongs to the body of recent jurisprudence, where the state’s right to regulate as well as investors’ responsibilities have been acknowledged by tribunals. Drawing on more recent policy developments in investment law, it is argued that Urbaser case is not an exception, but an indication of gradual transformation of investment regime to a more balanced system.

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