The human right to water

Rhett Larson, Kelsey Leonard, Richard Rushforth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Just as water is essential for life, so it is essential for the exercise of all rights, including civil and political rights, social and cultural rights, as well as economic and property rights. Thus, water itself should arguably be a right. After all, what other right matters to a person dying of thirst or cholera? But the formulation, interpretation and implementation of such a right raises difficult questions. How much is enough? How clean is clean enough? How low a price is affordable without raising concerns of sustainability? The recognition of water as a human right requires careful co-development of a workable policy, from the legal, technical and political communities. This chapter provides perspectives from law, engineering and political science regarding the development and implementation of the human right to water. Part 1 provides the history and theoretical background on the legal development of the human right to water. Part 2 discusses the technical and economic challenges and promise of implementing the human right to water. Part 3 discusses the public policy, political and environmental challenges facing the human right to water and the future development of that right.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWater Science, Policy and Management
Subtitle of host publicationA Global Challenge
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781119520627
ISBN (Print)9781119520603
StatePublished - Oct 25 2019


  • Human right to water
  • Water law
  • Water rights

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Environmental Science


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