Translating the Human Right to Water and Sanitation into Public Policy Reform
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The development of a human right to water and sanitation under international law has created an imperative to implement human rights in water and sanitation policy. Through forty-three interviews with informants in international institutions, national governments, and non-governmental organizations, this research examines interpretations of this new human right in global governance, national policy, and local practice. Exploring obstacles to the implementation of rights-based water and sanitation policy, the authors analyze the limitations of translating international human rights into local water and sanitation practice, concluding that system operators, utilities, and management boards remain largely unaffected by the changing public policy landscape for human rights realization. To understand the relevance of human rights standards to water and sanitation practitioners, this article frames a research agenda to ensure that human rights aspirations lead to public policy reforms and public health outcomes.
KeywordsHuman rights Water and sanitation International law Public policy Water governance Public health
In developing this manuscript, the authors wish to thank the forty-three key informants, whose descriptions of human rights and water and sanitation policy inform the research results described in this manuscript. The authors are additionally grateful to the members of the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition for their feedback on this research, to Professors Peggy Bentley and Pete Andrews for their comments on previous drafts of this article, and to Rachel Baum and Daniel Kim for their assistance in this study. Funding for this research was provided by the National Institute of Health’s Fogarty Foundation, and IRB approval for this research was granted by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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