Research Handbook on International Water Law
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Research Handbook on International Water Law

Edited by Stephen C. McCaffrey, Christina Leb and Riley T. Denoon

The Research Handbook on International Water Law surveys the field of the law of shared freshwater resources. In some thirty chapters, it covers subjects ranging from the general principles operative in the field and international groundwater law to the human right to water and whether international water law is prepared to cope with climate disruption. The authors are internationally recognized experts in the field, most with years of experience. The Research Handbook is edited by three scholars and practitioners whose publications and work deal with the law of international watercourses.
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Chapter 14: The human right to water

Inga T. Winkler


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.

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