While water has been the subject of international agreements for millennia, it has only been considered through the lens of human rights more recently. The human right to water has gained increasing recognition over the last 15 years. It was recognized by the UN General Assembly and is guaranteed as an implicit component of the right to an adequate standard of living. The UN General Assembly explains that the right to water ‘entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use’. The chapter also discusses other relevant human rights, including the human rights to sanitation, food and work. The human rights principles of non-discrimination, participation and accountability guide the allocation of water between different uses. As such, the human rights framework influences the interpretation of international water law by prioritizing basic human needs.
Hà Lê Phan and Inga T. Winkler
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.