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Human Right to Water vs Integrated Water Resources Management?

Thursday, August 19, 2010


OK, maybe not quite a ‘vs’. Tension might be the right word. And here is a paper discussing the topic. Of all the criticism towards the human right to water, this paper might be among those which are most coherent. According to the author:

Water resources management has been shaped by a variety of paradigms reflecting the evolution of government policies and transient societal values. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) became a predominant management framework in the 1990s. The Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to development has also emerged recently as an influential approach in the water sector. IWRM and the HRBA to development in the water sector overlap significantly. The interactions between the two approaches remain largely unexplored although their repercussions may be significant. Because they do not share identical premises and objectives, the concurrent implementation the two approaches might also lead to tensions detrimental to water resources management. The aim of this article is to explore the interactions between IWRM and the HRBA to development in the water sector. Questions raised by perceived conflicts are identified to help address potential tensions when the two approaches coexist. Synergies between IWRM and the HRBA are also detailed to establish how the two approaches are aligned.


A Clash of Paradigms in the Water Sector? Tensions and Synergies Between Integrated Water Resources Management and the Human Rights-Based Approach to Development

Keywords: Water, Human Rights, Human Rights-Based Approach to Development (HRBA), Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)


There are four points of potential and existing tensions which the author raised. They are:


  1. The HRBA as an anthropocentric approach and the need for an ecosystemic contextualisation of claims on water resources;
  2. The HRBA as an vehicle for developmental aspirations and the acknowledgement of limits in water resources availability;
  3. The indistinct duties of right-holders in regards to the user-pays principle;
  4. Economic water management and the need to protect marginal groups and the poor;

Download yourself directly from the SSRN.

I am currently writing a paper for a conference and all of these four aspects above will be considered.

Enjoy reading….