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Justiciability of the Right to Water in the SADC Region: A Critical Appraisal

International Water Management Institute, Southern Africa Office, 141 Cresswell St, Weavind Park, Pretoria 0184, South Africa
Great East Road Campus, University of Zambia, P.O. Box 32379 Lusaka, Zambia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 16 February 2018 / Revised: 22 April 2018 / Accepted: 27 April 2018 / Published: 2 May 2018
PDF [658 KB, uploaded 2 May 2018]


Weak justiciability of socio-economic rights almost circumscribes the trajectory of socio-economic development over time as individuals whose rights are violated cannot easily get a remedy through courts, which negatively affects the latter’s ability to meaningfully realize their development potential. The available literature on this issue is scant and disorganised and hence necessitating a critical appraisal. This review focuses on the justiciability of the right to water in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) focusing particularly on South Africa and Malawi. This is because socio-economic rights are clearly justiciable under South African law as opposed to the other SADC countries where national constitutions do not enshrine the right to water, and at best, the right to water can only be inferred from the right to life and to development. Deriving the right to water from other rights, and especially those that impose a negative obligation on the state, masks its importance and the likelihood that it can be justly adjudicated on. It is argued herein that for most of the other SADC countries to realize the right to water, the law should be crafted to expressly protect the right to water and this must be obvious in the respective constitutions, as well as other related water laws. This will enable courts to adjudicate disputes concerning water and possibly evolve jurisprudence that is responsive to the water needs of people according to their circumstances. View Full-Text
Keywords: water rights; justiciability; socio-economic development; SADC water rights; justiciability; socio-economic development; SADC

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Matchaya, G.; Kaaba, O.; Nhemachena, C. Justiciability of the Right to Water in the SADC Region: A Critical Appraisal. Laws 2018, 7, 18.

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