Translating the Human Right to Water and Sanitation into Public Policy Reform
- 1.8k Downloads
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.
- Baillat, A., Schmitz, T., & Szabó, M. (2013). Towards a human rights based water governance: Challenges for the post 2015 thematic consultations on water. Geneva: WaterLex.Google Scholar
- Barlow, M. (2009). Blue covenant: The global water crisis and the coming battle for the right to water. New York: New Press.Google Scholar
- Cavallo, G. A. (2012). The human right to water and sanitation: From political commitments to customary rule? Pace International L. Review Online Companion, 3, 136.Google Scholar
- COHRE, AAAS, SDC, & UN-HABITAT. (2007). Manual on the right to water and sanitation. Geneva: UN-HABITAT.Google Scholar
- de Albuquerque, C. (2009). Report of the independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. A/HRC/12/2. New York, NY: United Nations.Google Scholar
- de Albuquerque, C. (2010). Report of the independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. UNGA Doc. No. 65/254.Google Scholar
- de Albuquerque, C., & Roaf, V. (2012). On the right track: Good practices in realising the rights to water and sanitation. UN Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/Water/BookonGoodPractices_en.pdf.
- de Albuquerque, C. (2011a). Presentation. International conference on water and health: Where science meets policy. Water Institute and the Environment Institute University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, October 3–7, 2011.Google Scholar
- de Albuquerque, C. (2011b). Report of the special rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, 66th session of the General Assembly, Third Committee, Item 69(b), 3 August 2011.Google Scholar
- Donnelly, J. (2003). Universal human rights in theory and practice (pp. 20–21). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- George, A. L., & Bennett, A. (2005). Case studies and theory development in the social sciences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Guendel, L. (2012). Evaluation, public policies, and human rights. In S. Kushner & E. Rotondo (Eds.), Evaluation voices from Latin America. New directions for evaluation, (Vol. 134, pp. 29–37).Google Scholar
- Gupta, J., Ahlers, R., & Ahmed, L. (2010). The human right to water: Moving towards consensus in a fragmented world. Review of European Community & International Environmental Law, 19(3), 294–305.Google Scholar
- Jeffords, C. (2013). Constitutional environmental human rights: A descriptive analysis of 142 national constitutions. In L. Minkler (Ed.), The state of economic and social human rights: A global overview. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Langford, M., Bartram, J., & Roaf, V. (in press). The human right to sanitation. In M. Langford & A. Russell (Eds.), The right to water: Theory, practice and prospects. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Luh, J., Baum, R., & Bartram, J. (2013). Equity in water and sanitation: Developing an index to measure progressive realization of the human right. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 216, 662–671.Google Scholar
- McGraw, G. S. (2011). Defining and defending the right to water and its minimum core: Legal construction and the role of national jurisprudence. Loyola University Chicago International Law Review, 8, 127.Google Scholar
- Meier, B. M., Kayser, G. L., Amjad, U. Q., 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, 6.Google Scholar
- Murthy, S. L. (2013). The human right(s) to water and sanitation: history, meaning and the controversy over privatization. Berkeley Journal of International Law, 31, 89–147.Google Scholar
- Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). (2007). Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the scope and content of the relevant human rights obligations related to equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation under international human rights instruments. Geneva, New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
- Prasad, N. (2007). Social policies and water sector reform. UN Research Institute for Social Development. Markets, Business and Regulation Programme Paper, Number 3. Geneva: UNRISD.Google Scholar
- Riedel, E. (2006). The human right to water and General Comment No. 15 of the CESCR. In E. Riedel & P. Rothen (Eds.), The human right to water (pp. 19–36). Berlin: BWV, Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag.Google Scholar
- Roaf, V., Khalfan, A., & Langford, M. (2005). Monitoring implementation of the right to water: A framework for developing indicators. Global Issues Papers, 14, 64.Google Scholar
- Singh, N. (2013). Translating human right to water and sanitation into reality: A practical framework for analysis. Water Policy, 15, 943–960.Google Scholar
- Smets, H. (2006). The right to water in national legislations. Paris: Agence Française de Développement.Google Scholar
- Staddon, C., Appleby, T., & Grant, E. (2012). A right to water? Geographico-legal perspectives. In F. Sultana & A. Loftus (Eds.), Right to water: Politics, governance and social struggles. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Steiner, H. J., Alston, P., & Goodman, R. (2008). International human rights in context: Law, politics, morals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- United Nations. (1977). Report of the United Nations water conference, Mar del Plata 14–25 March 1977, UN Pub. EE77 II A 12. http://www.ielrc.org/content/e7701.pdf.
- United Nations. (2010). Resolution on human right to water and sanitation. UN General Assembly Resolution. A/64/292.Google Scholar
- United Nations. (2011). New York, 27 July 2011—Secretary-general’s remarks at general assembly plenary meeting on the human right to water and sanitation. Available at http://www.un.org/sg/statements/?nid=5440.
- United Nations. (2012). United Nations conference on sustainable development (Rio + 20) outcome. UN Doc. A/CONF.216/L.1.Google Scholar
- United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR). (2002). General comment 15. UN Doc. E/C.12/2010.Google Scholar
- United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (UN CESCR). (2010). Statement on the right to sanitation. Google Scholar
- United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2006). Human development report 2006: Beyond scarcity: Power, poverty and the global water crisis. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
- UN Human Rights Council. (2006). Human Rights and Access to Water. Decision 2/104.Google Scholar
- UN Human Rights Council. (2008). Resolution 7/22: Human rights and access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Geneva: United Nations.Google Scholar
- UN Human Rights Council. (2010a). Report of the council on its fifteenth session. A/HRC/15/60. New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
- UN Human Rights Council. (2010b). Resolution on human rights and access to safe drinking water and sanitation (A/HRC/15/L.14, 24 September 2010). New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
- UN Human Rights Council. (2010c). Right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/RES/15/22, 6 October 2010). New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
- WASH United, Freshwater Action Network and WaterLex. (2012). The human right to safe drinking water and sanitation in law and policy—a sourcebook.Google Scholar
- Water Aid. (2009). Our water, our waste, our town: Supporting civil society to engage in urban water and sanitation reforms. www.wateraid.org/urbanreform.
- WaterLex. (2012). WaterLex legal database on the human right to water and sanitation. http://www.waterlex.org/waterlex-legal-database/.
- WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2011). Report of the first consultation on post-2015 monitoring of drinking-water and sanitation. Berlin: WHO/UNICEF.Google Scholar
- WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. (2013). Equity and non-discrimination (END) working group. http://www.wssinfo.org/post-2015-monitoring/working-groups/equity-and-non-discrimination/.
- WHO. (2003). The right to water. Geneva: WHO.Google Scholar
- Winkler, I. (2012). The human right to water: Significance, legal status and implications for water allocation. Oxford: Hart.Google Scholar
- Winpenny, J. (2003). OECD global forum on sustainable development: Financing water and environmental infrastructure for all. Paris: Michel Camdessus Panel.Google Scholar