PHRGE Celebrates Impact on UN Human Rights Committee’s Observations on Water Rights


11.03.23 — Northeastern Law’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy (PHRGE) is claiming meaningful success in the just-released UN Human Rights Committee’s concluding observations on water rights following PHRGE’s presentation of a report on the discriminatory nature of water access in the United States. PHRGE faculty director Professor Martha Davis and students Jennifer Loveland-Rose ’25 and Zain Walker ’24 traveled to Geneva in October to present the PHRGE report, “Drinking Water Access and Affordability and U.S. Compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” on behalf of Food & Water Watch, the Center for Constitutional Rights and residents of Jackson, Mississippi, who continue to suffer from decades of disinvestment in their city’s water infrastructure.

“This is the first time that the UN Human Rights Committee has made recommendations concerning water issues to the U.S., so we're encouraged that it recognizes the importance of water access to realization of human rights,” said Davis, who serves as chair of the expert committee for HumanRight2Water, a Geneva-based non-governmental organization that advocates for water and human rights.

Comments related to PHRGE’s report include:
“The Committee also notes the State party’s efforts to ensure access to clean, safe and affordable water for its population, but it is concerned by various water crises in the State party, such as the leaking of high levels of lead into water systems and outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in Flint, Michigan, which disproportionately impact people of African descent and Indigenous Peoples (art. 6).”

“In the light of the Committee’s general comment No. 36 (2018) on the right to life, the State party should … also reinforce existing measures to prevent life-threatening water crisis, including toxic contamination of water systems, and ensure access to safe and clean water for its population

The full set of recommendations by the Committee is available at:

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