According to Philip Alston, the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, “Privatization is a process through which the private sector becomes increasingly, or entirely, responsible for activities traditionally performed by government, including many explicitly designed to ensure the realization of human rights. It can take many forms, ranging from the complete divestiture of government assets and responsibilities to arrangements such as public-private partnerships.”

Corporate capture not only targets State-owned enterprises for privatization or lucrative public contracts, but also works to undermine the State in other ways so as to increase dependency on corporations. According toConectas(Brazil), “Corporate capture is also [pressures] for the forced dismantling of the services provided by public companies and the widespread broadcasting of corruption scandals involving them to gain public support for privatization. This mainly occurs when the public company monopolizes the activity or when its market position tends to be greater than that of the private sector.”

Alston also argues that “Most definitions of privatization are of limited utility, because they fail to capture the deeper processes of value transformation that are at play. Narrowly conceived, privatization involves full divestiture, through which ‘all or substantially all the interests of a Government in a utility asset or a sector are transferred to the private sector’, even if some form of governmental regulation or oversight is maintained. More broadly, the term can cover any private sector involvement in public service provision.”

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