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Project Legal Issues Related to Water Sector Restructuring: Human Rights, Environment, Agriculture and Socio-Economic Aspects

In the face of growing water scarcity, most countries of the world are taking steps to use their water resources in a more sustainable way. The water crisis ranges from concerns of drinking water availability and/or quality, the degradation or contamination of freshwater resources, and the allocation of water resources to different users. To meet the challenge, many countries are undergoing systemic changes to the use of water resources and the provision of water services.

This project proposes to analyse the framework associated with the changing policy context for water use. The legal regime for the allocation of water covers a number of areas including water distribution to households, irrigation, industrial use and wastewater treatment. This is dealt with from a range of perspectives - human rights to agriculture development and trade - and from the local to the national and international levels. This project will provide a theoretical framework for understanding the place of water in law and in particular, the tension between the focus on water as an economic good and the focus on water as a human right. The project aims to contribute to a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted water related legal frameworks that govern water resources use at the local, national and international levels.

Project number n/a
Geographical coverage Switzerland, India
Budget (in €) 0
Programme Indo-Swiss Research partnership
Web site

The main objectives of the project can be summarised as follows:

  • To critically analyse legal issues arising under international law, such as environment and human rights provisions, concerning the economic, environmental and social consequences of proposed water regulatory changes and their implementation at the national level.
  • To study the broader impacts of water sector restructuring, including regulatory, environmental (water quality), and human rights aspects, as well as other related issues such as the links between water and agriculture.
  • To examine the situation in India regarding the social, environmental and economic problems stemming from water restructuring.
  • To develop practical and innovative suggestions to the problems identified with existing water restructuring projects, including enhancing participation and transparency in national and international decision-making processes.
  • To formulate specific proposals applicable to the situation in India in the framework of water resources use.
Results The project will contribute to a deeper understanding of the multifaceted water-related legal frameworks that govern water resource use at the local, national and international levels. The analysis of the complex issues related to water laws needs to be undertaken in specific contexts so as to understand the full conceptual and practical implications of the proposed changes. There is little work that has been carried out in India on the interactions between the national and international law on the impacts of international legal developments on law and policy at the national level. The focus of this project on the Indian situation will provide a way to examine in detail the interactions of international law with national law, questions of compliance with international law at the national level and the relevance of international law in national law and policy making.
Period [01/03/2006 - 28/02/2009]