Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Inga Winkler, a scholar in residence at NYU Law School, is a leading thinker and writer on the human right to water and sanitation. Her definitive book, The Human Right to Water, appeared in 2012. Now, she has contributed a companion analysis of the human right to sanitation: The Human Right to Sanitation, forthcoming in 37 U. Penn J. Int'l L. (2016). The article is currently available on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The Article provides background on the lack of access to sanitation faced by billions of people and highlights, in particular, inequalities in access to sanitation. It discusses how sanitation has long been, and continues to be, a neglected issue and how it is slowly gaining more and more attention, including in the context of human rights. The Article traces the steps that led to the political recognition of the human right to sanitation, and then discusses the legal status of the right to sanitation: is sanitation a “new” human right? Or has it rather been an implicit component of existing human rights guarantees that has only recently started receiving increasing attention? The Article argues that sanitation has a legal basis in existing human rights law and is best understood as a distinct human right (also distinct from the human right to water) as a component of the human right to an adequate standard of living. It provides clarification on the definition and specification of the right to sanitation through the criteria of availability, accessibility, affordability, quality and hygiene, and acceptability.
Finally, the Article discusses the complexity of realizing the right to sanitation and related human rights combining the aspects of individual dignity and public health. It acknowledges that sanitation is largely a matter of individual responsibility, but argues that states have a significant role to play in creating the environment that enables individuals to practice adequate sanitation as well as in ensuring public health.