Conclusions

Globalization has had a far-reaching impact, affecting the way that nations, businesses, and individuals operate on a daily basis. It has touched every part of our lives through its influence on the economy; on market and trade dynamics; on cultural change; on governance; and on natural resource management, to name just a few ways. As the world continues to become more interconnected through globalization policies, the international community becomes more intimately involved in the policies of individual nations. Likewise, as the world's population continues to grow, regional freshwater issues will become more prominent in the eyes of the international community. Thus, the community will continue to seek solutions to these problems, whether as recommendations, as international law, or as global policy. From a perspective of management or a perspective of governance, the issue of access to clean, safe drinking water is a problem of global proportions.

Whether enforced through human rights to water or approached through ethical means, solutions to access problems caused by inequitable distribution, pollution, supply, and demand must be devised within regional and local contexts. Though international IWRM plans suffer from implementation problems, the real problems may be due to governance issues within the state rather than any shortcoming of the IWRM model. Therefore, such plans must be designed and implemented at regional and local levels with only minimal guidance from the international and national levels. Sustainable management practices such as IWRM, when properly implemented, serve to improve access by improving stakeholder participation, water quality, water quantity, and the long-term health and sustainability of the watershed.

Regarding human rights language as a solution to the problem of access, Moench notes that there may be some truth to the following quote from The Economist-. "The new rights would have to be defined in the vaguest, most general terms if they are to be plausibly universal in scope. These rights will either mean nothing, if they are regarded as only empty platitudes; or, if the intention is to move from stating rights to enforcing laws, they will be constitutionally dangerous" [14]. Nevertheless, a human rights based approach to water does not have to be formulated through new human rights language that could potentially alienate some members of the global community. The right exists by implication as a prerequisite for the right to life, and that alone should carry the legal force necessary to protect the right to water to any extent that human rights language will.

Though ethical approaches lack legal force, similar to management approaches, they provide a flexible framework within which different cultural and social values can be weighed in the development of national, regional, and local policies and programs. Whether water is treated as an economic good, a common good, or both, it is in the best interests of developing nations to limit the use of privatized water systems. Where privatization is necessary or preferred, it would be best implemented along with strict regulations on pricing, distribution of services, and sustainable management practices. This includes limiting interbasin transfers to only what is absolutely necessary, allowing the sale of water to outside users only when it will not have adverse short- or long-term effects on the watershed. Further, internationally mandated or conditional privatization should not be allowed—the choice of whether or not to privatize should be left up to the stakeholders. We should also note that subsidization of water costs might be necessary in poor urban or rural areas.

Regardless of the hesitations of some international participants, the UN and other international agencies are moving ahead with their plans to implement an international endorsement of human rights to water. The first step came with the penning of General Comment No. 15, but whether the next step will consist of explicit human rights language to set water aside as a human right separable from the right to life remains to be seen. Either way, the challenges facing the international community to address the problems of access, implementation, and enforcement are many. Perhaps the greatest challenge will be to address the freshwater problem without resorting to language that is, in the words of Leonard Hammer, "overbearing."

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