HUMAN RIGHTS, INEQUALITY AND PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION: A CASE STUDY ON SANITATION FROM BRAZIL
Abstract: Disaggregated data on the relative success of the UN millennium goals made clear that the progress achieved in many countries, Brazil included, was not equitable, positioning the question “How to address inequalities?” as the next pressing challenge in human rights. Public law litigation could be regarded as a tool to reduce inequality, particularly in Brazil, given a unique institution of its legal system, the Public Prosecutors Office. This paper uses public interest litigation discussing access to sanitation services to test this hypothesis. In 2013, only 58.2% of the households had access to sanitation, with significant regional inequality in coverage. Boolean analysis was applied to assess court orders (2003-2013) and results showed a disconnect between litigation and demand for sanitation, indicating that areas that were better off in various social and economic indicators were the ones receiving attention. The paper suggests reflections on how public interest litigation could target those most in need.