Plebiscite / Popular Initiative for a Constitutional Standard on the Law and Use of Water Resources

In 2004, a plebiscite was held to consecrate water as a human right in the Constitution and make its management exclusively public, participatory and sustainable. This is one of the most successful popular initiative cases since the rule was supported by 64.7% of citizens eligible to vote. In addition, with this measure, Uruguay was the first country in the world to enshrine the Right to Water in its Constitution through a plebiscite, which is enshrined in Article 47 of the Constitution. The initiative was carried out by the National Commission for the Defense of Water and Life, a broad coalition of social and political organizations. The wording of the text of the reform was a process of discussion that led to the final text being adopted unanimously in the plenary of the Commission. Also highlighted was the broad and participatory campaign. Although after the plebiscite there were some difficulties for the implementation of a water policy that includes the principles established in the Constitution, in 2005 the international water management companies began to depart and in the following years various mechanisms of participation, such as Law 18.610 for a National Water Policy in 2009.

Institutional design


Formalization: is the innovation embedded in the constitution or legislation, in an administrative act, or not formalized at all?

Frequency: how often does the innovation take place: only once, sporadically, or is it permanent or regular?

Mode of Selection of Participants: is the innovation open to all participants, access is restricted to some kind of condition, or both methods apply?

Type of participants: those who participate are individual citizens, civil society organizations, private stakeholders or a combination of those?

Decisiveness: does the innovation takes binding, non-binding or no decision at all?

Co-governance: is there involvement of the government in the process or not?

embedded in the constitution/legislation 
Mode of selection of participants
Type of participants
democratic innovation yields a binding decision  


  • Deliberation
  • Direct Voting
  • E-Participation
  • Citizen Representation


  • Accountability
  • Responsiveness
  • Rule of Law
  • Political Inclusion
  • Social Equality

Policy cycle

Agenda setting
Formulation and decision-making
Policy Evaluation

How to quote

Do you want to use the data from this website? Here’s how to cite:

Pogrebinschi, Thamy. (2017). LATINNO Dataset. Berlin: WZB.

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