Nature’s Access to Water in Post-conflict Peacebuilding Efforts in South Sudan
This paper explores the role of environmental human rights in bridging gaps that often exist between immediate and short-term reactions of post-conflict nations to building their economy and long-term conservation and restoration efforts. Much has been said about the significance of environmental standards during war and conflict but not for peacebuilding efforts. This paper explores current internal and external tensions that exist in South Sudan to assess the potential value of environmental human rights in that context. Article 41 of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan provides for the right to a healthy environment. These efforts come into conflict with other environmental human rights such as the right to water and sanitation but this paper will go on to argue that the rich tradition within the African Continent of providing for the right to a healthy environment will ensure that in the long-term South Sudan will be better served through this constitutional provision because it avoids the narrow interpretations of the right to water which will be damaging for long-term peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan. Given increasing evidence of climate change, peacebuilding efforts need to avoid additional pressures on the ecological integrity and resilience of landscapes that need access to water to survive and support vulnerable populations like those in South Sudan.
KeywordsRights Healthy environment Access to water Competing interests South Sudan Peacebuilding
Portions of this paper are from an earlier publication which appeared as “When Interests Clash: The Right to Water in South Sudan” (2014) Vol 5 No 1 Journal of Human Rights and the Environment. We would like to acknowledge the helpful comments provided to us on this paper by anonymous reviewers as well as our colleagues and friends: Anna Greer, Louis Kotze, Evadne Grant, Natalia Szablewska, and Olivera Simic.