Translating the Human Right to Water and Sanitation into Public Policy Reform

Science and Engineering Ethics 20 (4):833-848 (2014)
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Abstract

The development of a human right to water and sanitation under international law has created an imperative to implement human rights in water and sanitation policy. Through forty-three interviews with informants in international institutions, national governments, and non-governmental organizations, this research examines interpretations of this new human right in global governance, national policy, and local practice. Exploring obstacles to the implementation of rights-based water and sanitation policy, the authors analyze the limitations of translating international human rights into local water and sanitation practice, concluding that system operators, utilities, and management boards remain largely unaffected by the changing public policy landscape for human rights realization. To understand the relevance of human rights standards to water and sanitation practitioners, this article frames a research agenda to ensure that human rights aspirations lead to public policy reforms and public health outcomes.

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