Flowing from the evolution of international legal obligations for water and sanitation, human rights practice has shifted to address state accountability for a human right to water and sanitation through the development of human rights indicators. This policy note focuses on efforts to develop indicators for state reporting to human rights treaty bodies, with human rights norms framing national reports and treaty bodies employing indicators to monitor the progressive realization of the human right to water and sanitation. In supporting evidence-based treaty monitoring through the United Nations (UN), both the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation have sought to develop indicators. This process of developing indicators for the human right to water and sanitation seeks to draw on previous indicator development practices, looking to these practices in framing, identifying and reviewing indicators. As part of a larger drive to facilitate rights-based accountability, there arises an imperative to study the political process of developing indicators, looking to past models in structuring future processes to assess the realization of the right to water and sanitation. Exploring the development of indicators for the human rights to health and education, this policy note analyses the indicator development process, proposing an indicator development process model as a basis for developing indicators that reflect the attributes of the right to water and sanitation, enlist key stakeholders in the policymaking process and have political relevance for state reporting to treaty bodies.

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