The Confluence of Domestic and International Law in the Institutionalization of the Human Right to Water

Dissertation Author: Corrine M. Tagliarina

Date: 2018

Abstract: The norm of the human right to water has emerged over the past two decades and grown in international specificity and support. Finnemore and Sikkink’s theory of norm life cycles appears to explain the rise in prominence of this norm. As I gathered data on domestic water policy to explore this theory, my data allowed me to identify a discrepancy in the expected norm formation and institutionalization timeline dominant in constructivist international relations scholarship on human rights norms. Rather than a top-down norm internalization process from the international level, instead we see the norm recognized in domestic law before appearing internationally. I argue that the content of the norm has been mutually constituted by both the domestic and international levels through this process, and the norm that exists at the international level does not match either the initial international version of the norm, or the various initial domestic versions of the norm. In this project, I analyze existing state laws and systematically disaggregate the key elements of the human right to water contained in each, in order to try to explain the mutually constitutive norm emergence process that I argue is taking place in relation to the human right to water. Using a dataset of water laws I gathered and categorized, I analyze the associations between elements of the human right to water, as well as their associations with expected control variables. Additionally, I present case examples from the US and India as a plausibility probe for my argument.