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Human right to sanitation in the legal and non‐legal literature: the need for greater synergy

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This review paper analyzes the legal and non‐legal literature on the human right to sanitation (HRS). It shows that despite applying different paradigms in framing the HRS, both literature support the following three main conclusions: (a) state and non‐state actors, particularly NGOs and private service providers, have potentially mutually supportive roles in the implementation of the human right to water and sanitation (HRWS); (b) the implementation is enmeshed in three potential conflicts—between the human rights approach and cost recovery, state provision of services and the implicit legitimization of informal settlements, and the empowerment of vocal rights holders rather than the marginalized rights holders for whom these rights are primarily meant; and (c) HRWS needs to be better linked to other fields and broader issues to ensure complementarities. The paper also highlights important lessons for both legal and non‐legal scholars to learn from each other's research and possibly forge strong multi‐ and interdisciplinary research themes. Non‐legal scholars can benefit from the legal literature's coverage of: (a) the normative content of the HRWS; (b) the theoretical justifications for HRWS; (c) the legal status of HRWS; (d) enforcement mechanisms; and (e) the accountability of duty bearers. Legal scholars can also benefit from the non‐legal literature's coverage of: (a) a broader scope for the HRWS and the indicators and monitoring systems used by non‐lawyers; (b) learning from the community‐led total sanitation (CLTS) experience; (c) the economic justifications for HRWS; (d) the need to link to appropriate technologies; and (e) the accountability of non‐state actors. WIREs Water 2016, 3:678–691. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1162 This article is categorized under: Human Water > Rights to Water Engineering Water > Water, Health, and Sanitation
Human right to water and sanitation (HRWS): Slow to integrate.
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The sanitation ladder must function within the framework of human rights norms and cross‐cutting criteria.
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