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Sanitation, human rights and disaster management

Marie Aronsson-Storrier (School of Law, University of Reading, Reading, UK)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 6 November 2017




The purpose of this paper is to link debates around the international law on human rights and disaster management with the evolving debate around the human right to sanitation, in order to explore the extent to which states are obliged to account for sanitation in their disaster management efforts.


The paper is based on analysis of existing laws and policy relating to human rights, sanitation and disaster management. It further draws upon relevant academic literature.


The paper concludes that, while limitations exist, states have legal obligations to provide sanitation to persons affected by a disaster. It is further argued that a human rights-based approach to sanitation, if respected, can assist in strengthening disaster management efforts, while focusing on the persons who need it the most.

Research limitations/implications

The analysis in this paper focuses on the obligations of states for people on their territory. Due to space limitations, it does not examine the complex issues relating to enforcement mechanisms available to disaster victims.


This is the first scholarly work directly linking the debates around international human rights law and disaster management, with human rights obligations in relation to sanitation. The clarification of obligation in relation to sanitation can assist in advocacy and planning, as well as in ensuring accountability and responsibility for human rights breaches in the disaster context.



This paper forms part of a special section: International Law and Disasters.


Aronsson-Storrier, M. (2017), "Sanitation, human rights and disaster management", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 26 No. 5, pp. 514-525.



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