UN: Chile’s privatised water model once again called into question



Geneva, October 3, 2023Chile has a unique water model in the world, based on the privatisation of water sources and management, which was inherited from the military dictatorship (1973-1990), was deepened during the transition to democracy and is still in place today. In other words, the industrial sector (active in agri-export, mining and energy) owns most of the water and, as a result, many areas of the country are already deprived of sufficient and adequate access to this resource, which poses a serious threat to the right to water of Chile’s rural and urban communities.

On Thursday 14th September, the Movement for the Defence of Access to Water, Land and Environmental Protection (MODATIMA) together with CETIM (Europe – Third World Centre), made an intervention at the plenary meeting of the 54th session of the UN Human Rights Council, during an interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation, Mr. Pedro Arrojo, where they shared the concerns of the communities affected by the privatised water model in Chile.

In their statement, MODATIMA and CETIM stressed that the regime of the privatised model continues to deepen the commodification of water and puts at risk the respect of the human right to water in Chile, particularly in the face of the emerging lithium and green hydrogen industries, on which the countries of the northern hemisphere are exerting strong pressure for their rapid and intensive extraction, production and export.


We have also denounced the criminalisation of the social movement fighting for water, which suffers from persecution and attacks by elites who want to maintain their privileges.

Chile has a privatised water model that has been in place for more than 40 years, and in the face of global phenomena such as climate change, drought, forest fires and loss of biodiversity, its communities feel profoundly vulnerable and their basic rights, such as access to the human right to water, are being violated.

In conclusion to the intervention, our organisations urged the Chilean government to respect its international commitments on human rights, and in particular on economic, social and cultural rights. We also urge the government to implement the various recommendations made by the last two Special Rapporteurs.

MODATIMA and CETIM will follow up on this issue with the Special Rapporteur, preparing an updated report on the current situation of the human right to water in Chile, in order to demand concrete measures from the Chilean State to assure this valuable and vital human right for its people. In other words, the two organisations will continue to fight to ensure that the defence and promotion of the right to water takes priority over private economic and commercial interests.

Watch the whole interactive session with the Special Rapporteur on the right to water: https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1n/k1ni8mwib0 (intervention by CETIM-MODATIMA at 2:42:34)

For more information:

– In 2020, MODATIMA and CETIM started their collaboration in the framework of advocacy efforts to make visible and denounce violations of the right to water in the Petorca region before the UN mechanisms. In this context, the two organisations submitted a detailed report to the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to water. The same Rapporteur then sent a communication to the government to demand accountability for the situation of violation experienced by the communities of Petorca.

– Read the reflection of MODATIMA in the framework of these #50 Years of the fascist military coup against the process of social and popular transformation initiated by Salvador Allende: a moment that defines the origin of the current model of dispossession of common goods.

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