Accessing water through a rights-based approach: problems and prospects regarding children

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The right to water has been recently recognized as a fundamental human right by the United Nations, thereby clarifying its status as ‘legally binding’, making it ‘justiciable’ and enforceable. This development has been heralded as a key that holds great potential to change the lives of the billions who still lack access to clean water. Many of those deprived of enjoyment of the right are children, who constitute up to a third of the population in the developing world. What is the value added of the rights-based approach for access to water, especially for children? Would recognition of the right to water as legally binding deliver real benefits to children in improving their access to water? Does it really offer anything new that can help them realize their right to water more effectively? These questions will be explored in this paper using empirical evidence from India, where water has been legally interpreted as a fundamental right, and as a welfare state, where there has been consistent effort on part of the state to improve children's access to water.

Keywords: Children, Empowerment, Gender, Human rights, India, Non-discrimination, Participation, Rights-based approach, Right to water

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