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Legal Strategies for the Development and Protection of Communal Property$
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Ting Xu and Alison Clarke

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266380

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266380.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 14 April 2021

Water: A Common Treasury

Water: A Common Treasury

(p.202) 10 Water: A Common Treasury
Legal Strategies for the Development and Protection of Communal Property

Rosalind Malcolm

Alison Clarke

British Academy

In this chapter we argue that, because of its unique physical qualities and its importance to life and the environment, water is what Gerard Winstanley in 1649 would have characterised as a common treasury – a resource to be used in common by all. We examine the notion of water as a common treasury, and the implications that this characterisation of water has for property rights in water. We argue that a property rights system centred on neoliberal conceptions of absolute private ownership, allowing private dominion over water and its commodification, is inappropriate for water and subverts its role as a common treasury. To enable water to function effectively as a common treasury, we argue, a more appropriate property model is one that emphasises and facilitates collaboration and cooperation rather than competition – in other words, a property rights system which acknowledges and promotes communal property in its many forms.

Keywords:   water, common treasury, property rights, commodification, communal property, collaboration and cooperation

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