Session 3.5

Wednesday, October 3, 2012
12:00 - 1:30 pm
Carr Center Conference Room (R-219)


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Sharmila Murthy, Fellow Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Co-Leader of the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Project.

Title: "Why a Human Right to Water and Sanitation"

About the Talk:

The talk will examine the question: is there value in recognizing water and sanitation as a human right? It will consider the nature of enforceability and explore the controversy over privatization in the water sector. Although international human rights law has historically been neutral with respect to economic models of service provision, human rights principles are relevant as to how to engage the private sector in the provision of basic services. The talk will examine this issue, focusing on potential tensions with the drive towards financial sustainability and efficiency, and discuss how human rights could be understood as guideposts to regulation and monitoring.

More about the presenter, Sharmila Murthy:

Sharmila Murthy is a joint Fellow in the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy and the Sustainability Science Program at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. Her research focuses on the intersection of human rights, poverty, and the environment. She has written on the relationship between land security and the challenges of realizing the human right to water and sanitation in the slums of Mumbai, India; on the history and meaning of the human right to water and sanitation and its relationship to the controversy over privatization; on the human right to water in the Negev in Israel; on Iraq’s constitutional mandate to ensure the just distribution of water; and more broadly on water governance in the Middle East. She also serves as the Lead Investigator for the Water Sector in an interdisciplinary, cross-sectoral research project on “Innovation and Access to Technologies for Sustainable Development.” Her faculty hosts are Professors Mathias Risse and William Clark.

Sharmila received her JD from Harvard Law School, her Master in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School, and Bachelor of Science in Natural Resources from Cornell University. She clerked for the Honorable Martha Craig Daughtrey on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She was a Fulbright Scholar in India and the recipient of the New Advocate of the Year award by the Tennessee Alliance of Legal Services. Previously, Sharmila practiced law with a focus on economic, social and cultural rights, first as a Skadden Fellow with the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands, and then as an associate at Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein, LLP. She also worked for an environmental consulting firm and in India on public health and microfinance projects. She has served in leadership roles with numerous civic and non-profit organizations, including the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. She is a former Fellow of the Impact Center's Women's Leadership Program. Currently, she serves as the Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the American Constitution Society Boston Lawyer Chapter, and is a member of the Emerging Leaders in Environmental and Energy Policy Network, which is a joint project of the Atlantic Council and the Ecologic Institute.