UN Resolution 64/292 The Right to Water and Sanitation

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External resources: HRBA and Water Governance Fast Facts - UNDP | Applying a HRBA to Developing Cooperation and Programming (UNDP, 2006) | COHRE Manual on the Right to Water and Sanitation | Protocol on Water and Health - Full Document) | COHRE Monitoring Implementation of the Right to Water: A Framework for Developing Indicators | Sub-commission guidelines for the realisation of the right to drinking water and sanitation (2005) | UNFPA - A HRBA to Programming, Practical Implementation Manual and Training Materials (2010) | Operational Guidelines for Implementing a Rights-Based Approach in Water and Sanitation Programming (CoHRE,2008) | COHRE Monitoring Implementation of the Right to Water: A Framework for Developing Indicators | FAQs on a HRBA to Development Cooperation | The Human Rights-Based Approach to Development - The Right to Water | UN Independent Expert Report on the issue of human rights obligations related to water and sanitation 2009 | UN Independent Expert Report on MDGs and right to water and sanitation 2010
Websites: The Rights to Water and Sanitation Information Portal | UN Independent Expert on Right to Water and Sanitation Webpage


On September 30th 2010, the UN Human Rights Council adopted by consensus Resolution 64/292 the human right to water and sanitation affirming that water and sanitation are human rights.

Contents

Press Statement

UN united to make the right to water and sanitation legally binding

GENEVA – In a historic meeting of the Human Rights Council, the UN affirmed yesterday by consensus that the right to water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living, which is contained in several international human rights treaties. While experts working with the UN human rights system have long acknowledged this, it was the first time that the Human Rights Council has declared itself on the issue.

According to the UN Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, “this means that for the UN, the right to water and sanitation, is contained in existing human rights treaties and is therefore legally binding”. She added that “this landmark decision has the potential to change the lives of the billions of human beings who still lack access to water and sanitation.”

On 28 July 2010, the General Assembly took a first critical step by recognising this fundamental right. However, that resolution did not specify that the right entailed legally binding obligations. The Human Rights Council – the main UN body competent in the area of human rights – in a resolution tabled by the Governments of Germany and Spain, with support from dozens of countries, has closed this gap by clarifying the foundation for recognition of the right and the legal standards which apply.

“I wholeheartedly welcome this resolution from the Human Rights Council, which signals a global agreement that access to water and sanitation are no longer matters of charity,” Ms. de Albuquerque said. “The right to water and sanitation is a human right, equal to all other human rights, which implies that it is justiciable and enforceable. Hence from today onwards we have an even greater responsibility to concentrate all our efforts in the implementation and full realisation of this essential right.”

The Resolution

Resolution adopted by the General Assembly
[without reference to a Main Committee (A/64/L.63/Rev.1 and Add.1)]
64/292. The human right to water and sanitation
The General Assembly,
Recalling its resolutions 54/175 of 17 December 1999 on the right to development, 55/196 of 20 December 2000, by which it proclaimed 2003 the International Year of Freshwater, 58/217 of 23 December 2003, by which it proclaimed the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”, 2005–2015, 59/228 of 22 December 2004, 61/192 of 20 December 2006, by which it proclaimed 2008 the International Year of Sanitation, and 64/198 of 21 December 2009 regarding the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life”; Agenda 21 of June 1992;[1] the Habitat Agenda of 1996;[2] the Mar del Plata Action Plan of 1977 adopted by the United Nations Water Conference;[3] and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of June 1992,[4]
Recalling also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [5] the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,[6] the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,[7] the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,[8] the Convention on the Rights of the Child,[9] the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities[10] and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, of 12 August 1949,[11]
Recalling further all previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council on human rights and access to safe drinking water and sanitation, including Council resolutions 7/22 of 28 March 200812 and 12/8 of 1 October 2009,[12] related to the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, general comment No. 15 (2002) of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on the right to water (articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights)[13] and the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the scope and content of the relevant human rights obligations related to equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation under international human rights instruments,[14] as well as the report of the independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation,[15]
Deeply concerned that approximately 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and that more than 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation, and alarmed that approximately 1.5 million children under 5 years of age die and 443 million school days are lost each year as a result of water- and sanitation-related diseases,
Acknowledging the importance of equitable access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as an integral component of the realization of all human rights,
Reaffirming the responsibility of States for the promotion and protection of all human rights, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and must be treated globally, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis,
Bearing in mind the commitment made by the international community to fully achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and stressing, in that context, the resolve of Heads of State and Government, as expressed in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, 17 to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water and, as agreed in the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (“Johannesburg Plan of Implementation”),[16] to halve the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation,
  1. Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights;
  2. Calls upon States and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer, through international assistance and cooperation, in particular to developing countries, in order to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all;
  3. Welcomes the decision by the Human Rights Council to request that the independent expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation submit an annual report to the General Assembly,[17] and encourages her to continue working on all aspects of her mandate and, in consultation with all relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, to include in her report to the Assembly, at its sixty-sixth session, the principal challenges related to the realization of the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation and their impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.


108th plenary meeting 28 July 2010

References

  1. Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3–14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and corrigendum), resolution 1, annex II.
  2. Report of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), Istanbul, 3–14 June 1996 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.97.IV.6), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.
  3. Report of the United Nations Water Conference, Mar del Plata, 14–25 March 1977 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.77.II.A.12), chap. I.
  4. Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3–14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and corrigendum), resolution 1, annex I.
  5. Resolution 217 A (III).
  6. See resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
  7. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 660, No. 9464.
  8. Ibid., vol. 1249, No. 20378.
  9. Ibid., vol. 1577, No. 27531.
  10. Resolution 61/106, annex I.
  11. United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.
  12. See A/HRC/12/50 and Corr.1, part one, chap. I.
  13. See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 2003, Supplement No. 2 (E/2003/22), annex IV.
  14. A/HRC/6/3.
  15. A/HRC/12/24.
  16. See Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August–4 September 2002 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.03.II.A.1 and corrigendum), chap. I, resolution 2, annex.
  17. See A/HRC/12/50 and Corr.1, part one, chap. I.

See also

HRBA

A Human Rights-Based Approach (HRBA) to Improve Water Governance in Europe & CIS

UN Recognises Access to Clean Water as a Basic Human Right

External Resources

WaterAid News Statement

Attachments

 UN Resolution on The Right to Water.pdf

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