The Challenge of Enforcing the Right to Water: The Case of Vedanta PLC Mining Conglomerate in Zambia
© by the authors
The right to water is now widely recognized as a human right both under the United Nations human rights system as well as the African regional human rights system. As a binding human right, states are under a duty to ensure their people enjoy the right to water. This chapter is a case comment. It comments on the challenge of enforcing the right to water of Zambian communities living in the vicinity of the mine owned by Vedanta PLC in Zambia. The chapter proceeds by first grounding the right to water in international human rights law, that is, both the United Nations human rights system and the African regional human rights system. It then proceeds by focusing on the subject of the case review, that is, the cases which affected communities brought to the courts to vindicate their right to water. The court cases are based on the incessant pollution of the river from which the community drew water for drinking and domestic use by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM), a Zambian mining company in which Vedanta PLC has a controlling stake. The review of court cases demonstrates in miniature form the practical and legal challenges poor people face in trying to have their right to water enforced. This is compounded when the perpetrator is a mining conglomerate with strong influence on the political elite.
Transitioning to Clean Water and Sanitation
Published: December 2021