The rights to water and sanitation in regional human rights law

Regional treaties provide further human rights protection. Below is a list of regional treaties that recognise either the right to water or the right to sanitation.

2001 European Charter on Water Resources

This treaty was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe. Article 5 confirms that everyone has the right to a sufficient quantity of water for his or her basic needs

1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

This treaty is part of the African Union. Article 14 confirms that every child has the right to enjoy the highest attainable state of physical, mental, and spiritual health. It defines State obligations as pursuing the full realization of this right, including taking measures to ensure the provision of adequate nutrition and safe drinking water.

1988 Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Article 10 stipulates that everyone has the right to health, meaning the enjoyment of the highest level of physical, mental and social wellbeing.

1981 African Charter of Human and People’s Rights 

Article 4 of this treaty confirms that every human being shall be entitled to respect for his life and the integrity of his person.

1969 American Convention on Human Rights

Article 4 of this treaty declares that everyone has the right to have their life respected.

1961 European Social Charter

Article 11 of this charter confirms that the right to the protection of health obligates State Parties to remove as far as possible the causes of ill health. This clearly necessitates the provision of safe water.

1950 European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms

This European treaty for the protection of human rights defines the right to life in Article 2. The right to water is not explicitly defined within this Covenant but as water is vital for human life, and both unsafe water and lack of sanitation are the world’s biggest killers, the right to life cannot be ensured without the full recognition of these rights.