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The GATS and Regulatory Autonomy: A Case Study of Social Regulation of the Water Industry


  • Andrew Lang


In June 2002, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report entitled 'Liberalization of trade in services and human rights'. In this article, the author examines one of the concerns voiced in that report, that the GATS potentially affects the ability of governments to regulate the water industry in the pursuit of social objectives. This claim has been disputed by a number of other commentators. Taking both the claim and its critics on their own terms, he applies GATS non-discrimination articles to typical water sector regulation, to determine whether, and in what circumstances, such regulation potentially violates those provisions. He argues that one should view with some skepticism strong claims that the GATS does not restrict social regulation of the water sector, as they are often based on unjustifiably robust interpretations of the protective provisions of the GATS. At the same time, he identifies a number of promising argumentative strategies of potential use for those interested in protecting domestic regulatory autonomy in the water sector. Copyright 2004, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Andrew Lang, 2004. "The GATS and Regulatory Autonomy: A Case Study of Social Regulation of the Water Industry," Journal of International Economic Law, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(4), pages 801-838, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jieclw:v:7:y:2004:i:4:p:801-838

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    Cited by:

    1. Olivier Cattaneo & Michael Engman & Sebastián Sáez & Robert M. Stern, 2010. "International Trade in Services : New Trends and Opportunities for Developing Countries," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 2476, July.
    2. Bronwen Morgan & Frank Trentmann, 2006. "Introduction: the politics of necessity," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 345-353, December.
    3. Bronwen Morgan, 2006. "The North–South politics of necessity: regulating for basic rights between national and international levels," Journal of Consumer Policy, Springer, vol. 29(4), pages 465-487, December.

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