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Open AccessArticle

Does it Matter? Constitutionalisation, Democratic Governance, and the Right to Water

by Rebecca Schiel 1,4,*, Malcolm Langford 2,3,4 and Bruce Wilson 1,3,4
1
School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs, University of Central Florida, Orlando 32816, USA
2
Department of Public and International Law, University of Oslo, Oslo 0130, Norway
3
Centre for Law and Social Transformation, University of Bergen, Bergen 5003, Norway
4
Chr. Michelsen Institute, Bergen, 5003, Norway
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(2), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020350
Received: 29 November 2019 / Revised: 31 December 2019 / Accepted: 20 January 2020 / Published: 26 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Rights to Water and Sanitation)
States are urged frequently by the UN, policymakers, and activists to recognise the human right to water domestically. However, does such legal incorporation, often in national constitutions, affect water policy and the realisation of the right? While several qualitative studies report positive impacts, initial quantitative assessments have questioned the systematic positive impact of the national recognition of the human right to water. Yet, such quantitative analyses of the effects of constitutional rights to water often overlook important mediating policy factors. We test specifically whether strong democratic governance is a significant condition for ensuring that the constitutional recognition of the human right to water has concrete outcomes. Results of a multivariate regression analysis on a global sample of 123 states over a 15-year period provide two findings. First, the constitutionalisation of the right to water and other economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCRs), in national constitutions alone is not associated with material benefits related to the human right to water. Second, the constitutionalisation of those rights can have positive material benefits for water access when the rights are foregrounded in democratic governance.
Keywords: water; human rights; democratic governance; sustainable development goals; constitutionalisation of rights water; human rights; democratic governance; sustainable development goals; constitutionalisation of rights
MDPI and ACS Style

Schiel, R.; Langford, M.; Wilson, B. Does it Matter? Constitutionalisation, Democratic Governance, and the Right to Water. Water 2020, 12, 350.

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