This article discusses the role of NGO’s in advocating Palestinian water rights using the framework of human right to water in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). The right to water in international human rights law ‘entitles everyone to sufficient safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses’. It is indispensable for maintaining human dignity and considered a prerequisite for the realisation of other human rights. The human right to water is framed so as to be implemented through the relationship between a state and its population, whereby the state is responsible for the realisation of certain obligations to the people, who in turn have the right to monitor the performance of the state and participate in decision-making. The right to water emphasises the role of the state or sovereign as responsible for the realisation of the obligations, and thus the party who should have exclusive agency for water provision and control over water resources.
However, in a situation of hydro-hegemony coupled with occupation as exists in the OPT, a question arises regarding the feasibility of using the human right to water framework to support Palestinian water rights. Many local and international actors adopt the framework of human rights to water to support Palestinians’ water rights, focusing on the deteriorating situation of water in the OPT particularly in terms of the availability of water and access to it. According to this view, Palestinian water rights stem from their status as human beings, rather than their political status as members of a nation who enjoy the right of permanent sovereignty over natural resources and the right to self-determination. This article argues that using the framework of the human right to water to support Palestinian water rights in the current situation in the OPT not only reinforces Israel’s hydro-hegemony, but also might overlook or compromise collective Palestinian water rights, such as the right of permanent sovereignty over natural resources.