An event was held concerning water and sanitation as human rights as well as the opportunities and challenges facing the extension of these rights to the global population. The representative of Germany began by noting that while support for these issues as human rights has increased, climate change and other factors could impede future access to sustainable water sources. Billions of people today live without reliable water and/or proper sanitation facilities. Germany believes that those in need should be included in creating policy for ensuring future access. Current SDG outlines call for universal access by 2030.
Ms. de Albuquerque explained that many states have not had the ability to turn political will into practice regarding protection of these rights. To change this, she created a handbook that provides guidance to states that need it. The handbook is separated into nine issues fundamental to the realization of water and sanitation rights. Mr. Alston hailed the handbook for its ability to “operationalize the wisdom that has been learned” during the rapporteur’s mandate. Further, the consensus created around water and sanitation as human rights is important because it connects them with internationally binding standards and obligations, thus transforming how the issues are approached. People, especially women, must now become empowered to demand their rights, and civil society must pressure governments to adhere to rights standards. UNICEF’s representative stressed the necessity of compiling information in the form of data that allows the international community to monitor the progress of states’ advancement of water and sanitation rights.
The Spanish representative concluded by applauding the conceptual combination of water and sanitation, which has helped increase global awareness of sanitation issues. He also called on the international community to ensure the inclusion of meaningful water and sanitation goals in the post-2015 development agenda.
Meeting: The Human Rights to Water and Sanitation: Tools for their Realization and Remedies for Violations.”
Date: 22 October 2014
Location: Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, UN HQ, New York.
Speakers: Catarina de Albuquerque, Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation; Philip Alston, John Norton Pomeroy Professor of Law at New York University, Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights; Representative of the Permanent Mission of Germany; Representative of the Permanent Mission of Spain; Representative of UNICEF; Representative of OHCHR.
Written by WIT Representative: Philip Bracey
Edited by WIT Representative: Aslesha Dhillon