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Shields and Swords: Legal Tools for Public Water


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 paper looks at six cases of citizen-backed referenda and litigation, offering a comparative and global perspective:

  • Uruguay (2004)
  • Colombia (2010)
  • Berlin, Germany (2011)
  • Italy (2011)
  • Grenoble, France (2000)
  • Indonesia (2005)

In all cases, the staying power of water rights networks has been most critical to campaign success.

Jackie Dugard and Katherine Drage
Publication Information: 
Occasional Paper no. 17
Publication Date: 
Publication Type: 
Occasional Paper