International Conference on the Right to Water and Sanitation in Theory and Practice

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Legal Framework: The Rights to Water and Sanitation in International Law | Regional Law | National Law
WaterWiki-resources:Rights to Water and Sanitation: A Handbook for Activists | UN Human Rights Council Resolution on Water and Sanitation | UN Recognises Access to Clean Water as a Basic Human Right | Human Rights-Based Approach | Applying a HRBA to Water:A Case Study | Water-related Legislation and Conventions | The Right to Water - WHO Publication | A UN Convention on the Right to Water - An Idea Whose Time Has Come | International Conference on the Right to Water and Sanitation in Theory and Practice | Q&A: The Right to Water | General Comment 15 (2002) | Q&A: Water Governance | Water and Health | Equitable Access to Water and Human Rights | European Union Water Framework Directive | Essay: What exactly is “The Right to Water”? | Protocol on Water and Health | Protocol on Water and Health/Q&A | Lessons Learned From Rights-Based Approaches in the Asia-Pacific Region | Human Rights-Based Approach Strategies adopted by UNICEF Laos | Utility Privatisation through the Lens of Human Rights | The Right to Water - From Concept to Implementation | The Human Right to Water:Translating Theory into Practice | Report of the Seminar on Human Rights and MDGs, May 2009
External resources: HRBA and Water Governance Fast Facts - UNDP | Applying a HRBA to Developing Cooperation and Programming (UNDP, 2006) | COHRE Manual on the Right to Water and Sanitation | Protocol on Water and Health - Full Document) | COHRE Monitoring Implementation of the Right to Water: A Framework for Developing Indicators | Sub-commission guidelines for the realisation of the right to drinking water and sanitation (2005) | UNFPA - A HRBA to Programming, Practical Implementation Manual and Training Materials (2010) | Operational Guidelines for Implementing a Rights-Based Approach in Water and Sanitation Programming (CoHRE,2008) | COHRE Monitoring Implementation of the Right to Water: A Framework for Developing Indicators | FAQs on a HRBA to Development Cooperation | The Human Rights-Based Approach to Development - The Right to Water | UN Independent Expert Report on the issue of human rights obligations related to water and sanitation 2009 | UN Independent Expert Report on MDGs and right to water and sanitation 2010
Websites: The Rights to Water and Sanitation Information Portal | UN Independent Expert on Right to Water and Sanitation Webpage

Date

26-27 November 2008

Location

Oslo, Norway (Norlandia Hotel)

Organizer(s)

Univesrity of Oslo; University of Oxford; UNDP Oslo Governance Centre

Synopsis / objectives

The Universities of Oslo and Oxford, together with UNDP have organized this international conference (26 and 27 November 2008 in Oslo, Norlandia Hotel) to examine a wide range of theoretical and practical dimensions of the human right to water and sanitation. The principal objective was to promote research, debate, legal/policy development and greater understanding of the human right to water and sanitation.

The focus was on the global and local level from a range of disciplinary perspectives, including law, environmental studies, development, economics, health and other social sciences. The four key outputs of the conference were: (i) an edited volume of papers; (ii) a synthesis report of key themes, ideas and further research recommendations that would be made publicly available; (iii) one page abstracts of the papers (i.a. for posting on WaterWiki, as to be updated and further developed after the conference.

UNDP organized a third-day follow-up workshop to discuss the practical translation of conference outcomes into results at the ground.

Background

The social, environmental, economic and ideological dimensions of the world water crisis are manifest in the massive degradation of freshwater resources, the large-scale inequities in access to water resources and supply, and concerns over the privatisation of water services. As the deep-seated structural dimensions of these problems have become more apparent, Human Rights-Based Approach are being increasingly promoted as a means of improving access to water and water governance. The right to water was explicitly recognised in a 1977 UN declaration, but the key legal catalyst was likely the adoption of General Comment 15 (2002) on the Right to Water by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In 2006, the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights adopted Guidelines on the Realization of the Right to Drinking Water and Sanitation. The same year, UNDP’s Human Development Report’s first recommendation was that all governments ‘make water a human right– and mean it’. Some governments and national courts have begun to recognise and apply the Right to Water. Recently, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated that it is time to consider access to water and sanitation as a human right, while the UN Human Rights Council has recently appointed an Independent Expert on Human Rights and Access to Water and Sanitation.

It is therefore an opportune time to reflect on the right to water in theory and in practice, particularly as six years will shortly elapse since the adoption of the General Comment and the UN Millennium Project Taskforce has called on countries to use the standard in reaching MDG 7 Target 10. It is firstly important to consider whether the right has now been firmly entrenched in, at least, international human rights treaty law and the implications for legal and philosophical theories on the criteria for the establishment of new rights. Secondly, the potential conflicts between water uses need to be more fully examined in a human rights context, in particular the relationship between basic uses and other uses including livelihoods, environment and general economic development. Thirdly, and most critically, there is a need to more deeply consider the role human rights can play in enriching and transforming thinking on service delivery, as well as augmenting traditional human rights advocacy. Fourthly, it is necessary to consider the relationship of the right to water with sanitation, particularly as 2008 is the International Year of Sanitation.

Programme & Papers

For the final report of the conference see 'attachments' below

OPENING SESSION (26 Nov 08; 9:00-10:00)

Facilitator: Asbjørn Eide, Emeritus Professor, Norwegian Centre for Human Rights, University of Oslo

  • Erik Solheim, Minister of the Environment and International Development, Norway
  • Catarina de Albuquerque, UN Independent Expert on Human Rights Obligations related to Access to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation
  • Joakim Harlin, UNDP / Office of UN-Water


SESSION 2 - LAW, POLITICS & POWER: CHALLENGES IN CONTEXT (26 Nov 08; 10.30-12.15)

Facilitator: Bjørn Føerde, UNDP Oslo Governance Centre

Malcolm Langford, Norwegian Centre on Human Rights, University of Oslo

Professor Bill Derman, Norwegian University of Life Sciences and University of Michigan and Dr. Emmanuel Manzungu, Soil Science and Agricultural Engineering, University of Zimbabwe

Professor Anne Hellum, Institute for Women’s Law, University of Oslo


SESSION 3 - CONFLICT OR CONGRUENCE: WATER ALLOCATION (26 Nov 08; 13:30-15:30)

Facilitator: Professor Anne Hellum, Institute for Women's Law, University of Oslo

Stefano Burchi, FAO

Dr. Barbara van Koppen, International Water Management Institute, Johannesburg

Dr. Philippe Cullet, SOAS, University of London

Professor Attila Tanzi, University of Bologna, Italy


SESSION 4 - THE BROADER DEVELOPMENT CONTEXT (26 Nov 08; 16:00-17:30)

Facilitator: Dr Nandita Singh, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Dr. Anna Russell, Oxford Centre for Water Research, University of Oxford

Dr. Jackie Dugard, University of Witwatersrand and Malcolm Langford, University of Oslo


SESSION 5 - WATER SERVICES AND THE MARKET (27 Nov 08; 9:00-10:30)

Facilitator: Dr Philippe Cullet, SOAS, University of London

Carolina Fairstein, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS), Argentina

Nicola Colbran, Norwegian Centre on Human Rights

  • Comment: "Privatisation from below",

Professor Bill Derman, Norwegian University of Life Sciences and University of Michigan


SESSION 6A: SOCIAL CHOICE AND SOCIAL NORMS (27 Nov 08; 11:00-12:30)

Facilitator: Karin Lexén, Swedish Water House

Dr. Rob Hope, Oxford Centre for Water Research, University of Oxford

Dr. Nandita Singh, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Virginia Roaf, COHRE, Malcolm Langford, University of Oslo


SESSION 7A: FISCAL RESOURCES AND AFFORDABILITY (27 Nov 08; 13:30-15:30)

Facilitator: Dr. Rob Hope, Oxford Centre for Water Research, University of Oxford

Dr. Ed Anderson, University of East Anglia and Malcolm Langford, University of Oslo

Virginia Roaf, COHRE and Gonzalo Pizarro, UNDP

Dr. Simone Klawitter, GTZ Zambia

Henri Smets, French Water Academy


SESSION 7B: EQUALITY, LAW AND DEVELOPMENT (27 Nov 08; 13:30-15:30)

Facilitator: Andrew Preston, Association for Water Studies (FIVAS) Norway

Lara El-Jazairi, COHRE Right to Water Programme

Domingo Lovera, University of Diego Portales, Santiago, Chile

Associate Professor Maria Lundberg, China Programme, Norwegian Centre on Human Rights and Yong Zhou, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Thorsten Kiefer, COHRE Centre of Housing Rights and Evicisons & Phd Candidate, University of Amsterdam


SESSION 8: CONCLUSIONS (27 Nov 08; 16:00-17:00)

Facilitator: University of Oslo, University of Oxford

  • Five panellists from amongst the participants would be asked to speak for five minutes on their conclusions before a wider debate is commenced. The panellists would be two academics, one UN agency, one government, and one civil society representative.

References

See also

External Resources

Oxford University School of Geography and the Environment Conference Page

Attachments

 OsloWaterGovernanceReport.pdf

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