PHRGE Releases New Report on Water and Human Rights in the US


07.22.21 — Northeastern Law’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy has released the latest publication in its series on water and human rights in the US,  “Voluntary Local Reviews and the Human Right to Water.” The briefing paper examines the treatment of the human right to water in three Voluntary Local Reviews (VLRs) prepared by US cities and reports on the local implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) no. 6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.”

Brianna Ziegenhagen ’22 is the lead author of the report. Additional input was provided by Martha F. Davis, University Distinguished Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law; Amanda Lyons, Executive Director, Human Rights Center, University of Minnesota; and Laura Senier, Associate Professor of Sociology and Health Sciences, Northeastern University. This publication is the product of the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy, with input from the Northeastern University interdisciplinary research team behind the National Science Foundation-funded project, “Water Unaffordability in the United States: Using Principles of Organizational Capacity to Understand Municipal Variation in Providing Water Access.”

“New York, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh are to be commended for taking the lead in implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals, even while the US government was disengaging from this critical challenge over the past few years,” said Professor Martha Davis, PHRGE's faculty director. “But as these cities and others continue to work with the SDG framework, we want to make sure that they do it right, with robust community participation and a focus on human rights.  SDG 6, addressing clean accessible water, is a good place to start.”

This is PHRGE’s sixth publication in a series on the human right to water. The other publications are: (1) The Human Right to Water: A Research Guide and Annotated Bibliography; (2) The Human Right to Water: Using Freedom of Information Laws to Understand Rising Water Rates; (3) The Human Right to Water: A Primer for Lawyers and Community Leaders; and (4) A Drop in the Bucket: Water Affordability Policies in Twelve Massachusetts Communities; and (5)  Disconnected: How Household Water Shutoffs in the United States During the COVID Pandemic Violate the Human Right to Water.

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country and is a national leader in legal education reform. Founded with cooperative legal education as the cornerstone of its program, Northeastern guarantees its students unparalleled practical legal work experiences. All students participate in full-time legal placements, and can choose from the more than 1,500 employers worldwide participating in the school’s signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. The future of legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experience to successfully practice law.

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