Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Johannesburg, Auckland Park, South Africa


Despite expressly providing for a number of rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) sadly omits the right to basic sanitation. This is a matter of concern as figures released by United Nations agencies and other international organisations paint a bleak picture of the levels of provision (or lack thereof) of basic sanitation around the world. They demonstrate huge and growing disparities in relation to the provision of basic sanitation facilities between urban and rural populations. International law has certainly not helped the situation by omitting this important right in key human rights instruments such as the ICESCR. This is also manifested in the tendency by many governments to separate basic sanitation from the right to water. The article argues, however, that this fact alone should not hinder the legal enforcement of this right.


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