Shields and Swords: Legal Tools for Public Water

Municipal Services Project Occasional Paper no. 17
Author(s): Jackie Dugard and Katherine


Water activists have an encouraging record of using legal tools to overturn privatization in the fight for public services. Shields and Swords examines and draws lessons from water campaigns’ legal strategies around the world, some of which have transformed national laws and banned private provision, while others were partial victories.


The Occasional Paper is available here

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Municipal Services Project Occasional Paper no. 17

Author(s): Jackie Dugard and Katherine Drage

Water activists have an encouraging record of using legal tools to overturn privatization in the fight for public services. Shields and Swords examines and draws lessons from water campaigns’ legal strategies around the world, some of which have transformed national laws and banned private provision, while others were partial victories. In all cases, the staying power of water rights networks has been most critical to campaign success.

The paper looks at six cases of citizen-backed referendums and litigation, offering a comparative and global perspective: Uruguay (2004), Colombia (2010), Berlin, Germany (2011), Italy (2011), Grenoble, France (2000), Indonesia (2005).

The Occasional Paper is available here.