Friday, May 4, 2012

Jeroen Temperman - Human Rights, Public Participation, and Privatization

Dr. Jeroen Temperman has a new article on SSRN: Public Participation in Times of Privatization: A Human Rights Analysis, recently published in Erasmus L. Rev. vol. 4, Issue 2 (2011).  Here is the abstract:
Privatisation may not only affect the enjoyment of the right to public participation itself, but might also impact other substantive rights. This article charts some of the ramifications of privatisation in relation to individual human rights as enshrined in international human rights conventions, with a particular focus on the impact privatisation has on the right to public participation. The right to public participation can be seen as both an example of a fundamental right that may be affected by processes of privatisation and, at the same time, potentially being the key to remedying (part of) the adverse impact privatisation has on the enjoyment of other fundamental rights.
I enjoyed this article and thought that the human rights perspective makes it a valuable contribution to the field, although the European perspective on what constitutes a basic right will seem foreign or unusual to many American readers.  Temperman does not define privatization in the paper, and I assumed that he is using the term as most Europeans do - the selling off of government assets or the withdrawal of the government from some sector, leaving it to the market instead.  (In the United States, "privatization" more often refers to the government hiring a private contractor to perform some governmental functions - the government still ensures the task gets done and pays for it, but hires non-state actors to make the goods or provide the services).  Yet Temperman talks throughout the paper about "government services," as opposed to assets, and some of his examples - such as education - overlap with "privatization" efforts in the United States.

UPDATE: The entire Issue (4:2) of Erasmus Law Review is a special issue dedicated to the phenomenon of privatization analyzed from different (international) legal perspectives. Dr. Temperman took on some of the international human rights issues surrounding privatization, while other scholars discussed it from the perspective of environmental law or trade & development law.

- Dru Stevenson

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