Table of Contents

Research Handbook on Disasters and International Law

Research Handbook on Disasters and International Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Susan C. Breau and Katja L.H. Samuel

International law’s role in governing disasters is undergoing a formative period in its development and reach, in parallel with concerted efforts by the international community to respond more effectively to the increasing number and intensity of disasters across the world. This Research Handbook examines a broad range of legal regimes directly and indirectly relevant to disaster prevention, mitigation and reconstruction across a spectrum of natural and manmade disasters, including armed conflict.

Chapter 14: Water security

Hà Lê Phan and Inga T. Winkler

Subjects: environment, disasters, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, law - academic, environmental law, law and development, public international law, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


Water security and disasters are mutually linked. On the one hand, too much water (floods) and too little water (droughts) may constitute disasters. On the other hand, access to water is often a significant challenge during responses to disasters, notwithstanding if they are related to water. Water security plays a pivotal role in all stages of a disaster, from prevention and mitigation through disaster response to recovery and reconstruction. In disaster settings, water security is governed by a complex interplay of different branches of international law. These include international humanitarian law, international criminal law, international environmental and water law, climate change law, international refugee law and human rights law. The chapter seeks to discuss whether these regimes comprehensively govern and achieve water security in times of disasters; whether they have evolved into a body of international disaster law; and whether protection gaps remain and how these could be addressed.

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