Inga Winkler

Global Fellow

Lecturer in Human Rights, Columbia University

Dr. Inga Winkler is a lecturer at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. Her research agenda is held together by her interest in socio-economic rights, development, gender, social justice and substantive equality. Her policy experience over the last years has allowed her to follow discussions at various levels from global processes to local challenges which is reflected in her research approaches. Current research projects focus on the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights, the UN Special Procedures, menstrual health and wellbeing, and the human right to sanitation.

Recent relevant activity:
Participating in a panel on water and sanitation in the US at the Law and
Society Annual Meeting in Toronto(2018): Water, sanitation and hygiene in the United States:
Inequalities and Power Asymmetries.

The human rights to water and sanitation have gained significant momentum globally in the last decade. More recently, human rights advocates and grassroots groups in the U.S. have increasingly drawn attention to challenges for the realization of human rights in the context of water, sanitation and hygiene. The panel brought together an interdisciplinary group of scholars and advocates, who have been engaging with communities in these struggles. The individual papers addressed the crisis around lead in water in Washington DC and Flint and the predominance of technocratic solutions, the struggles faced by native nations, and the lack of adequate sanitation and wastewater infrastructure in Lowndes County, Alabama.

The panel discussed the impacts of intersecting inequalities across the lines of race, class, and gender and the role that other factors such as place of residence and technical expertise play. It drew attention to power asymmetries, structural injustices and broader repercussions of measures adopted in the context of water and sanitation. Panelists discussed alternatives based on community mobilization and agency with the goal of bringing about transformative change.

Recent publications:

America’s Dirty Secret’: The Human Right to Sanitation in Alabama’s Blackbelta is a paper on the right to sanitation in Alabama whritten together with
Catherien Coleman Flowers. To read more click here.

Glass Half-Full or Glass Half-Empty?:A human rights assessment of the WASH targets in the SDGs is a paper on water & sanitation in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As Winkler highlights: “The human rights community has engaged at an unprecedented level in the elaboration of the SDGs, including the water and sanitation targets. The SDGs have given rise to a complex ecosystem of instruments, documents and initiatives undertaken by different actors at various levels. The article examines these various instruments and processes to assess whether they support a further institutionalisation of the human rights to water and sanitation. To what extent are these targets grounded in human rights? Do the processes put in place to monitor and implement the targets lead to an institutionalisation of these human rights? Should we consider the SDGs a glass half-full or a glass half-empty in terms of their potential for institutionalising the human rights to water and sanitation? To read more click here.