Volume 47 (2013) / Issue 6
As 'blue gold' is becoming a scarce good, different methods for protecting the human right to water are being devised. One of these is to reduce the ways in which it is misused. In order to achieve this, the concepts of 'virtual water' and a 'water footprint' are being developed. An ecolabel with a water footprint indicator is being applied by the first representatives of agribusiness. However, its potential is much more significant. It could be used as a tool of public policy. In both cases, it could affect international trade and therefore needs to be evaluated under the law of the World Trade Organization. The International Organization for Standardization already works on a water footprint norm, which would provide public entities with a strong argument for their water-saving policies. To date, states have not been provided with any relevant international standard. Nevertheless, they must comply with the norms of international trade. The aim of this article is to provide clarification on the existing and developing legal framework on the matter. It also argues that even if the concept of a water footprint were to remain a private standard, states would still be under a 'best effort' obligation to ensure the transparency of its elaboration and application.
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