Freshwater Access from a Human Rights Perspective

A Challenge to International Water and Human Rights Law

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Insufficient access to a basic water supply is not an unavoidable consequence of water scarcity. In fact, arid countries possess enough resources to fulfil the basic water needs of their populations and there are people in water rich countries suffering from water stress, too. Thus, insufficient freshwater access mainly can be seen as a problem of allocation and mismanagement. This book comprehensively analyses the appropriateness of a human rights-based approach in safeguarding basic water supplies and determines its legal basis in international law. Arriving at the conclusion that international water law does not adequately consider individual water needs, the study identifies applicable human rights and examines the concrete standard of protection they provide. In view of the deficits of current international water and human rights law, the study discusses concepts deemed to strengthen a human rights-based approach to freshwater access by considering both their formal legal appropriateness as well as their suitability in legal reality.
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Biographical Note

Knut Bourquain, Ph.D. (2008) in Law, was research associate at the Center for International Development and Environmental Research at the University of Gießen. He is currently working as an attorney at law in Germany.

Table of contents

Acknowledgement; A. Introduction; I. The background situation – water scarcity as a global problem; II. Causes of the current crisis; III. Strategies of crisis management; IV. The role of law in problem-solving; V. The human rights-based approach to freshwater access in international law; VI. Synopsis of the study; B. The law on international watercourses and its deficits in providing freshwater access; I. Introduction; II. Survey of the development of international water law in the 20th century; III. Analysis of international water law in regard to fulfilling the basic human need for water; IV. Concluding observations on international water law’s deficits; C. Elements of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; I. Introduction; II. Characteristics of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; III. Human rights-based approaches vs. policy concepts?; IV. Freshwater access in the context of the debate on rights to development and a clean environment; V. Elaboration of the scope of obligations attached to a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; VI. Universalism, particularism and pluralistic legal systems; VII. Concluding observations on the characteristics of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; D. The human rights-based approach to freshwater access within current international human rights law; I. Introduction; II. Freshwater access within international human rights treaties; III. Freshwater access as part of customary international human rights law; IV. Freshwater access as part of general principles of international law; V. Extraterritorial obligations of states concerning the basic human need for water; VI. Concluding observations on the international human rights law’s contribution to freshwater access; E. Improving a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; I. Introduction; II. The need to connect human rights law with international water law; III. Establishing new international treaty law; IV. Specifying and developing the human rights-based approach to freshwater access by the interpretation of existing law; V. Soft law and policy instruments strengthening a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; VI. Concluding observations on prospects for the improvement of a human rights-based approach to freshwater access; F. Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.

Readership

This book is of interest to legal academics specialising in international water, environmental and human rights law, but may also assist laypersons dealing with the issue of basic water supplies.

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