In July of 2010, the United nations identified clean water as a human right. However, less than one percent of the fresh water on earth is accessible for human use and global population is estimated to reach eight billion by 2025. But not all nations have and can maintain clean water systems due to the economic burden. Could the answer to this problem lie not in human rights, but property rights? Jeremy J. Schmidt and Kyle R. Mitchell discuss the political and ethical considerations of the rights to clean water in their article “Property and the Right to Water: Toward a Non-Liberal Commons” from Review of Radical Political Economics.
This paper examines the turn to considerations of property in arguments regarding the commons and the human right to water. It identifies commitments to liberalism in political economy approaches to property and human rights and develops a matrix for identifying non-liberal conceptions of the commons. The latter holds potential for an agonistic politics in which human rights are compatible with ecological sensibilities regarding the dynamics of conflict and cooperation in complex systems.
Click here to sign up for e-alerts and get all the latest from Review of Radical Political Economics.