Human Rights to Water in Indonesia

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A long journey towards the international recognition of water as a basic human rights started in decades ago. The victory of a global level recognition of water as human rights was finally celebrated with the issuance of UN Resolution 64/292 by the UN General. But what is a right to water? Scanion et al. (2014) explained the two contents of the human right to water: substantive right and procedural right. Substantive right constitutes how a human right should be defined. The definition of the human right to water was firstly declared during the 1977 Mar del Plata Conference: “all people, whatever their stage of development and their social and economic conditions, have the rights to drinking water in quantities and of a quality equal to their basic need.” Even so, the recognition of a right to water does not immediately eliminate the barriers in extending this right to citizens. Meanwhile, procedural right deals with the enforcement of the substantive rights; a well-established of the former will serve as a protective shield above the latter. According to Scanion et al. (2014), the core of procedural right to water includes the rights of individuals to: (1) information concerning the government’s activities on water-related issues; (2) participate in decision-making concerning water issues; (3) resource for environmental harm suffered; (4) fair and just administrative action.

A preliminary review highlights whether the national regulations have incorporated the substantive right and procedural rights to water and link it with the issue of privatization.  It is concluded that explicit codifications of human rights to water in the national (and local) regulations are crucial in bridging the access gap and service quality of water service, particularly for the poor. Achieving the progressive realization of human rights to water is in itself challenging. The efforts in doing so are upscaled when not only those distributive outcomes needs to be constantly monitored, but also the rules through which these outcomes ensue needs to be assessed. At the moment, it is unclear whether the Indonesian regulatory framework has accommodated the procedural right to water sufficiently. Studies of the progressive realization of human rights to water in Indonesia to also focus on developing the way the institutional and regulatory aspects can be best evaluated.

Our study aims to:

  • developing the way the institutional and regulatory aspects can be best evaluated to assess substantive and procedural rights;
  • reviewing regulatory frameworks, particularly related to the water procedural rights;
  • assessing the legal and policy aspects and look for representative empirical cases of the topic on human rights to water in Indonesia within the context of groundwater use and exploitation