Sustainable Development And The Human Right To Freshwater

Publication Information

Journal Title: Journal of Legal Studies & Research
Author(s): Ivaylo Nikolchovski
Published On: 30/06/2022
Volume: 8
Issue: 3
First Page: 209
Last Page: 263
ISSN: 2455-2437
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

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Ivaylo Nikolchovski, Sustainable Development And The Human Right To Freshwater, Volume 8 Issue 3, Journal of Legal Studies & Research, 209-263, Published on 30/06/2022, Available at


The evolution of the right to water can be traced to the developments of the early 1970s. The main purpose of this thesis is to argue that, based on the developments in the field of international law, today there is an emerging right to water. In support of my arguments, I will discuss the various legal measures in relation to the right to freshwater, adopted since the 1970s. I will analyze the resolutions and declarations of the different conferences and international forums that have been held since that time and the ways in which they have addressed the issue of the right to water. Although at the present moment the right to freshwater does not explicitly exist in the international legal plane, according to my research, the contextual interpretation of different international measures can provide evidence for the slow establishment of customary international law, guaranteeing the right to water. I strongly believe, that issues regarding freshwater, its access to it and its preservation for future generations, are closely connected to the principle of sustainable development, enshrined in the international environmental law as well as in the principles of international human rights law. It is scientific fact that water is essential for all life on earth. Life without water is simply not possible and consequently, issues regarding water and access to it, do relate to various human rights, such as the right to life, health, sustainable development and many more.

The following chapters shall elaborate on sustainable development and other principles of international law and their correlation to the Human Right to Freshwater.

The first section of this thesis, (hereinafter: Part I), covers the availability of freshwater as a common heritage of all humankind. While I am discussing this, I will take into consideration sustainable development and other principles of international environmental law. These principles will be subsequently discussed in Part I. Each principle will be examined in a separate sub-part.

In the second part of the thesis, (hereinafter: Part II) I will put forth the right to freshwater in a contextual examination of several international human rights legal instruments. More to the point I will discuss the right to water and its connection to other human rights, such as the right to life, health and an adequate standard of living.

Part III will examine, what exactly is customary international law and how it is established. I am going to discuss, some of the international cases, relevant to the creation of customary international law. I am also going to present arguments, supporting the notion, that based on the developments in the international environmental and human rights law during the last forty years, there is a growing trend for the establishment of the right to water under customary international law.

In the last part of this document, namely Part IV, I will examine the so–called Hypothetical International “Framework for Water Management and Preservation” or just “the Framework”. This is a hypothetical document that I would like to propose. The Framework will be dealing with the management and preservation of freshwater resources on an international scale

In this legal document, I will try to unite the different principles of international environmental law with the principles of international human rights law, thus arguing, that there is a growing tendency by the international community to create and recognize customary right to fresh water. In my personal, legal opinion, such a right will be able to grant all people equal access to freshwater and inter alia preserve it for future generations. Furthermore, the adequate protection of the right to freshwater will greatly improve the living standard all around the globe, particularly in the least developing countries.

Keywords: Law, Legal, Human Rights, Water, Environment

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