Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 877–884 | Cite as

On Rights-Based Partnerships to Measure Progress in Water and Sanitation

  • Margaret SatterthwaiteEmail author


The right to water and sanitation has emerged from the penumbra of associated rights in the past few decades and now plays an important role in international debates. This right has emerged “from below”, through the efforts of social movements seeking transformation in the lives of the world’s poor, and it has been recognized “from above”, with major international actors such as the United Nations, international financial institutions, and even large corporate actors affirming its existence. As the obligations and entitlements inherent in this right are increasingly clarified, the role of interdisciplinary collaboration has never been more important. This short Commentary examines one such collaborative effort, led by the United Nations Joint Monitoring Programme, to devise post-2015 goals, targets, and indicators for water, sanitation, and hygiene. The Commentary calls for renewed partnerships to advance human rights-based policy among advocates, development practitioners, and water and sanitation experts from diverse scientific fields.


Human rights Right to water and sanitation Human rights-based approaches Human rights indicators 


  1. Alkire, S. (2013). A new household survey to catalyse the data revolution,
  2. Bacon, L. (2013). A true data revolution would leave no one behind,
  3. Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE). (2005). Possible indicators for the right to water and sanitation.Google Scholar
  4. Cointreau, M., & Subedi, M. (2013). My data revolution is not your data revolution,
  5. de Albuquerque, C. (2012). Integrating non-discrimination and equality into the post-2015 development agenda for water, sanitation and hygiene, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. Google Scholar
  6. Felner, E. (2009). Closing the ‘escape hatch’: A toolkit to monitor the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights. Journal of Human Rights Practice, 1, 402–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Flores, O., Giné, R., Pérez-Foguet, A., & Jiménez, A. (2013). Post-2015 WASH targets and indicators: A review from a human rights perspective.
  8. Hafner-Burton, E. (2008). Sticks and stones: Naming and shaming the human rights enforcement problem. International Organization, 62(4), 689–716.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hafner-Burton, E. M., & Ron, J. (2009). Seeing double: Human rights impact through qualitative and quantitative eyes, 61. World Politics, 61, 360–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda (2013). A new global partnership: Eradicate poverty and transform economies through sustainable development.Google Scholar
  11. Langford, M., & Fukuda-Parr, S. (2012). The turn to metrics. Nordic Journal of Human Rights, 30, 222–238.Google Scholar
  12. Meernik, J., Aloisi, R., Sowell, M., & Nichols, A. (2012). The impact of human rights organizations on naming and shaming campaigns. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 56(2), 233–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Meier, B. M. M., Kayser, G., Amjad, U., Kestenbaum, J. G., & Bartram, J. (in press). Examining the practice of developing human rights indicators to facilitate accountability for the human right to water and sanitation. Journal of Human Rights Practice.Google Scholar
  14. Meier, B. M. M., Kestenbaum, J. G., Kayser, G. L., Amjad, U. Q., Dalcanale, F., & Bartram, J. (2014). Translating the human right to water and sanitation into public policy reform. Science and Engineering Ethics. doi: 10.1007/s11948-013-9504-x.
  15. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (2012). Human rights indicators: A guide to measurement and implementation.Google Scholar
  16. Rosga, A., & Satterthwaite, M. (2012). Measuring human rights: UN Indicators in critical perspective. In Davis, K.E., Fisher, A., Kingsbury, B., and Merry, S.E. (Eds.), Governance by indicators: 297–316.Google Scholar
  17. Sultana, F., & Loftus, A. (2012). The right to water: Prospects and possibilities. In F. Sultana & A. Loftus (Eds.), The right to water: Politics, governance and social struggles, 1–18.Google Scholar
  18. United Nations High Level Panel (2013).Google Scholar
  19. WHO/UNICEF JMP Equity and Non-Discrimination Working Group (2012). Background Note.Google Scholar
  20. WHO/UNICEF JMP Equity and Non-Discrimination Working Group (2013). Final Report.Google Scholar
  21. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). (2011). Report of the first consultation on post-2015 monitoring of drinking water and sanitation, Berlin 3–5 May 2011.Google Scholar
  22. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). (2012). Report of a technical consultation on the measurability of global WASH indicators for post-2015 monitoring.Google Scholar
  23. WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP). (2013). Post-2015 WASH targets and indicators,
  24. Winkler, I.T. (2012). The Human Right to Water: Significance, Legal Status and Implications for Water Allocation. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New York University School of LawNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations