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Measuring the human right to water: An assessment of compliance indicators

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According to the United Nations, over a billion people lack access to clean drinking water. As a call to action regarding deficient water availability, the UN has recognized formally the prescriptive norm of a “human right to water” within treaty legislation for over a decade. The right to water requires states to ensure that water is available, accessible, safe, affordable, and acceptable, but little consensus exists regarding the conditions that constitute adequate compliance with this norm. In general, structural, process, and outcome indicators are considered to be the benchmark of right to water compliance, but these terms remain ambiguously defined on the international level, which leaves states without a specific national roadmap for compliance. This analysis attempts to clarify the confusion surrounding right to water indicators by (a) explaining the historical context behind the creation of each distinct type of indicator for water access, (b) reviewing the salient literature on human rights compliance, and (c) reflecting critically on the utility of the existing indicator matrix. Ultimately, the evidence suggests that structural, process, and outcome indicators are necessary, but insufficient on their own to determine whether a state has complied with its human right to water obligations. As an alternative, a move to integrate the existing indicator categories in order to evaluate a state's capacity to provide the human right to water may serve as a more effective tool assessing how able states are to provide a right domestically to which they may have agreed internationally. This article is categorized under: Human Water > Rights to Water Human Water > Methods Engineering Water > Planning Water

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Engineering Water > Planning Water
Human Water > Rights to Water
Human Water > Methods

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