Constitutions of the world : overview of the recognition of the right to water

Tables on the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in the different constitutions of the world are now available in English on RAMPEDRE.
Florence Higuet, IERPE, Belgium
Published: 5 years, 3 months ago (06/28/2013)
Updated: 4 years, 4 months ago (06/14/2014)
From now on, tables on the recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in the constitutions of all the countries of the world are available in English on RAMPEDRE.

Six tables exist: five continental tables showing all constitutions of each continent and one general reproducing only the constitutions that did recognize the right to water.

Next to the right to water and sanitation, other related rights (e.g. the right to life, to housing, to a healthy environment...) have been analyzed.

The position of every State on the vote of Resolution 64/292 of the General Assembly of the United Nations recognizing the human right to water and sanitation adopted on July 28, 2010 can also be observed in the last column of the tables.

On the basis of those tables some conclusions may be drawn.

First of all, between the moral and political commitment at UN-level and the legal commitment at national level, there is a long path to go. Concerning the Resolution 64/292, most of the present countries (122 countries) voted in favor of the recognition of the human right to water and all the remaining States (44 countries) abstained from voting. However, at national level, only 14 countries recognized explicitly the right to water in their constitutions.
Yet, the consequences of those commitment differ significantly for citizens. Indeed, the existence of constitutional norms permits to activate legally-binding monitoring mechanisms. So, legal proceedings may be undertaken to demand full respect of a right.
An appropriate legal embodiment is a first step towards the implementation of a human right.


As we were saying, of the 198 States that are members of the United Nations, only 14 do recognize explicitly the human right to water in their constitutions. Those are:
  • In Africa: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Somalia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe
  • In America: Bolivia, Ecuador, Mexico, Nicaragua and Uruguay
  • In Asia: the Maldives
Soon, Tunisia and the Republic of Fiji will extend the list as their draft constitutions include the recognition of this right.

In Europe, no country has currently recognized the right to water in its constitution.

However, that said, we should not forget that several countries, which did not recognize the right to water in their constitutions, adopted other legislations that did. The latter should thus also be the focus of some research.

Those tables can be accessed by the links below or by the page "Concrétisation, approche territoriale, national" and then you click on the "name of the continent", "legislation summary":

Under the English version, you can also find the French version of those tables.