UNGA Approves Text on Human Right to Water and Sanitation
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The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) has approved a draft resolution on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Germany and Spain sponsored the draft resolution, which had 82 co-sponsors.

United Nations21 November 2013: The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) has approved a draft resolution on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. Germany and Spain sponsored the draft resolution, which had 82 co-sponsors.

The text (A/C.3/68/L.34/Rev.1) calls on States to ensure the progressive realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation in a non-discriminatory manner, while eliminating inequalities in access, with a focus on the most disadvantaged and marginalized. The text also recommends, inter alia: promoting the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation in discussions on the post-2015 development agenda; and monitoring and analysis on the status of the realization of the human right to water.

Several delegates expressed disappointment that the agreed text does not include a paragraph with the Human Rights Council’s (HRC) definition of the human right to water and sanitation, according to the UN. Costa Rica withdrew its sponsorship of the draft resolution following the paragraph’s deletion. Switzerland said deleting the paragraph weakened the text. El Salvador hoped a stronger document would be adopted in 2014.

India said water and sanitation could not be viewed exclusively from a human rights perspective and emphasized there was not yet consensus on the human rights-based approach to development.

Noting the right to water does not encompass transboundary issues, Canada recommended addressing rights to water at the national level. The United States highlighted its commitment to water and sanitation.

The HRC’s Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights adopted ‘Guidelines for the Realization of the Right to Drinking Water and Sanitation’ (E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/25) in 2006. These guidelines formed the basis for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, established in 2008. In 2010, the UNGA adopted Resolution A/64/292, which “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.” The HRC then affirmed this recognition and clarified that the right is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living, as agreed in HRC Resolution A/HRC/15/9, adopted in 2010. [UN Meeting Summary] [Statement by Germany] [Publication: E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/25] [HRC Resolutions on Water and Sanitation]

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