Realisation of the Right to Sanitation: Law and Policy Challenges

Realisation of the Right to Sanitation: Law and Policy Challenges
Philippe Cullet
Monday, 22 September 2014 Add to Calendar 2014-09-22 15:30:00 2014-09-22 15:30:00 Asia/Kolkata Realisation of the Right to Sanitation: Law and Policy Challenges The fundamental right to sanitation has been the object of increasing attention over the past decade. This has been true within the country where the right had already been recognised in the 1990s through from the shadow of water with which it has been (and largely remains) associated. Yet, beyond the recognition of a fundamental right, there is little guidance as to the scope of the right. This has been taken judicial interpretation and at the international level. Sanitation has slowly emerged in law and policy terms up mostly through executive decisions of the government (administrative directions), such as in the case of rural sanitation where the framework defined at the Union level has come to constitute de facto the content of the right to sanitation. The current lopsided legal framework raises various issues. Firstly, the right to sanitation remains largely conceived as access to toilets, even though definitions of sanitation are based on a broader understanding of sanitation. Secondly, the links between sanitation and (waste) water management remains scanty because they are still seen as separate topics. Thirdly, sanitation remains largely seen as a technical issue despite the fact that there are unavoidable links that must be made: these include the prohibition of untouchability (manual scavenging), equality (gender dimensions in particular), work conditions (sanitation workers). While significant progress has been made in raising the issue of sanitation to the level of a public issue, the legal framework within which this is taken up is presently not suitable to find appropriate equitable, sustainable and just long-term solutions.
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The fundamental right to sanitation has been the object of increasing attention over the past decade. This has been true within the country where the right had already been recognised in the 1990s through from the shadow of water with which it has been (and largely remains) associated. Yet, beyond the recognition of a fundamental right, there is little guidance as to the scope of the right. This has been taken judicial interpretation and at the international level. Sanitation has slowly emerged in law and policy terms up mostly through executive decisions of the government (administrative directions), such as in the case of rural sanitation where the framework defined at the Union level has come to constitute de facto the content of the right to sanitation. The current lopsided legal framework raises various issues. Firstly, the right to sanitation remains largely conceived as access to toilets, even though definitions of sanitation are based on a broader understanding of sanitation. Secondly, the links between sanitation and (waste) water management remains scanty because they are still seen as separate topics. Thirdly, sanitation remains largely seen as a technical issue despite the fact that there are unavoidable links that must be made: these include the prohibition of untouchability (manual scavenging), equality (gender dimensions in particular), work conditions (sanitation workers). While significant progress has been made in raising the issue of sanitation to the level of a public issue, the legal framework within which this is taken up is presently not suitable to find appropriate equitable, sustainable and just long-term solutions.