Special Issue "Human Rights to Water and Sanitation"

A special issue of Water (ISSN 2073-4441). This special issue belongs to the section "Water and One Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (22 March 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alejandro Jiménez Fernández de Palencia
Website
Guest Editor
Stockholm International Water Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: water governance, human rights, sustainable water and sanitation services, resilience
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Leo Heller
Website
Guest Editor
Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil; UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
Interests: human rights, public policies, environmental health

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Since the explicit recognition of the human right to water and sanitation by the United Nations in 2010, there have been numerous initiatives to advance in the interpretation, implementation, and realization of these rights, at different scales—from local to global—and from different stakeholders—international agencies, national governments, local authorities, civil society organizations, activists, service providers, regulators, academia, etc.

This Special Issue is dedicated to “Human Rights to Water and Sanitation” and seeks to capture the most up-to-date research and practices. We would therefore like to call for original papers from researchers, practitioners, regulators, and decision-makers about their contributions to the realization of these human rights and their intellectual reflections about the topic, from different perspectives. We are looking for papers that discuss theoretical approaches, legal and institutional frameworks, and case studies related to those rights, highlighting the normative content of the rights and principles of the human rights. Contributions that address how to increase accountability, achieve gender equality, enable meaningful participation, or ensure non-discrimination are welcomed. We are also looking to understand the synergies and tensions of the framework of the human rights to water and sanitation and the Sustainable Development Agenda, and how the interdependence and indivisibility of the rights relate to the envisioned cross-cutting approach of the 2030 goals.

In this Special Issue of Water, one focus will be discussing and disseminating existing practices in realizing the rights to water and sanitation. We are looking for cases that reflect the multitude of approaches and ideas across regions and between stakeholders and sectors, and we particularly invite practitioners and decision-makers to share successes and failures. Papers will be selected through a peer review procedure by balancing local relevance and academic rigor, with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination and application of research results.

Full research articles, reviews, as well as shorter commentary/communications from practitioners are welcome.

Dr. Alejandro Jiménez Fernández de Palencia
Dr. Leo Heller
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Water is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Human rights
  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene
  • Sustainable development goals
  • Equality
  • Accountability

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
New Approaches to Monitor Inequalities in Access to Water and Sanitation: The SDGs in Latin America and the Caribbean
Water 2020, 12(4), 931; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12040931 - 25 Mar 2020
Abstract
In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Targets 6.1 and 6.2 show, in their formulation, some alignment with the normative content of the human rights to water and sanitation (HRWS). However, the principle of equality and non-discrimination, which applies to all human rights, [...] Read more.
In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Targets 6.1 and 6.2 show, in their formulation, some alignment with the normative content of the human rights to water and sanitation (HRWS). However, the principle of equality and non-discrimination, which applies to all human rights, was not clearly incorporated into the indicators adopted to assess and monitor these targets. This paper contributes to bridging this gap by proposing two methodological strategies to address inequalities in analyses of access to water and sanitation services. The first consists in adjusting the indicators of access to these services according to inequality. The second proposes an assessment of intersecting forms of inequality. An application of these methods in Latin America and the Caribbean highlights significant regional heterogeneity and elevated inequality in access to services in the countries of this region. The methods demonstrate their potential in contributing to assessment and monitoring of the SDGs, but outdated or lacking data are obstacles to more in-depth analyses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Rights to Water and Sanitation)
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Open AccessArticle
Affordability and Disconnections Challenges in Implementing the Human Right to Water in Portugal
Water 2020, 12(3), 684; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030684 - 02 Mar 2020
Abstract
Although the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRtWS) has been recognised by the United Nations and several countries have reformed their constitutions and/or national legislation to reflect this decision, several others, namely developed countries, have not reacted domestically to this recognition. The [...] Read more.
Although the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (HRtWS) has been recognised by the United Nations and several countries have reformed their constitutions and/or national legislation to reflect this decision, several others, namely developed countries, have not reacted domestically to this recognition. The argument usually lies with the high level of institutionalisation of economic, social and cultural rights in these countries. However, reports of water disconnections due to payment default, especially in times of economic crisis and austerity policies, raise the issue of what does the implementation of the HRtW imply in countries where physical accessibility is almost fully guaranteed. The discussion seems to then focus on issues of affordability. This article focuses solely on the dynamics of implementing the Human Right to Water, because once the physical accessibility to sanitation is guaranteed, even if the service is deemed unaffordable and payment default ensues, disconnection of sewage collection per se does not occur. This does not imply that there are no issues associated with sanitation services in Portugal, but that those issues are of a different nature and beyond the scope of this article. Portugal does not have an explicit recognition of the HRtWS in its legal framework, but voted in its favor in the United Nations General Assembly and it is also a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Thus, in Portugal, a country with 96% of the population connected to drinking water services, the HRtW is considered a non-issue. The article, however, argues that the HRtW in Portugal is not fully implemented and that issues of affordability hinder its respect, protection and fulfillment. The discussion builds on research conducted after the economic crisis period (2010–2014), since during those challenging years, the country faced a high number of households being deprived of access to water due to payment default. The dynamics of this period show that the core issue underlying the recognition of a HRtW still remains in Portugal. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Rights to Water and Sanitation)
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Open AccessArticle
Regarding Groundwater and Drinking Water Access through A Human Rights Lens: Self-Supply as A Norm
Water 2020, 12(2), 419; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020419 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Globally, some 2.5 billion people depend solely on groundwater to satisfy their daily drinking water needs. The reliance on this resource and its centrality to realize the human right to ‘safe’ drinking water has increased manifold, but this is yet to be fully [...] Read more.
Globally, some 2.5 billion people depend solely on groundwater to satisfy their daily drinking water needs. The reliance on this resource and its centrality to realize the human right to ‘safe’ drinking water has increased manifold, but this is yet to be fully acknowledged globally or by governments and political leaders at the national level. This paper analyses the interface of international human rights law, as corresponding to the obligations and responsibilities of different actors, regarding groundwater resources planning, management and protection. Drawing on the literature, we discuss the State’s duties to respect, protect and fulfil this right especially in relation to the freedom of end-users to self-supply from groundwater sources; the training and regulation of non-State service providers including drillers and private vendors; and health and safety concerns. Interpreting the State’s duty to ‘fulfil’ through direct water service provision ‘as a last resort’, this paper suggests that self-provision is the original norm for enjoying the right to water. This has significant implications for the State’s role in raising awareness concerning point source protection and aquifer recharge for water resources management and in decisions concerning water allocation. By ignoring self-provision, which is primarily from groundwater, the State is not only missing a tremendous opportunity but is jeopardizing the water security of future generations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Rights to Water and Sanitation)
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Open AccessCommunication
Designing Human Rights for Duty Bearers: Making the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Part of Everyday Practice at the Local Government Level
Water 2020, 12(2), 378; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020378 - 30 Jan 2020
Abstract
In most countries, local governments bear primary responsibility for ensuring everyone has access to water and sanitation services. For the human rights to water and sanitation to move from recognition to realisation, they need to become part of the everyday practice of local [...] Read more.
In most countries, local governments bear primary responsibility for ensuring everyone has access to water and sanitation services. For the human rights to water and sanitation to move from recognition to realisation, they need to become part of the everyday practice of local authorities. Yet the potential for the human rights to water and sanitation to practically inform local efforts towards inclusive, sustainable service delivery has received limited attention to date, with human rights discourse more typically focusing on national and international levels or on building the capacity of rights holders to claim their rights from government. There is considerable opportunity to consider how human rights can constructively inform local government efforts to expand and improve services. This Communication article presents a novel approach to making human rights relevant and actionable for local authorities. Developed by a consortium of WASH-focused organisations and informed by design thinking, the Making Rights Real approach combines user-centred materials showing how human rights can inform local action, with a process of constructive engagement between civil society and local government professionals. The Making Rights Real approach has been applied in 12 countries by 37 civil society organisations to date. In this paper, we describe the development and features of the Making Rights Real approach, share initial results from its implementation, and reflect on the potential for the approach to catalyse transformational change towards local realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Rights to Water and Sanitation)
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Open AccessArticle
Does it Matter: Constitutionalisation, Democratic Governance, and the Human Right to Water
Water 2020, 12(2), 350; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12020350 - 26 Jan 2020
Abstract
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, [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Human Rights to Water and Sanitation)
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