Right to sanitation: UN independent expert’s report to be presented in September

Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque

Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque

A report outlining the human rights obligations related to sanitation will be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in September 2009. Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque wrote the report in July as part of her duties as Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

In her report De Albuquerque supports the recognition of sanitation as a distinct right. “The inextricable links between sanitation and so many human rights mean that international human rights law requires States to ensure access to sanitation that is safe, hygienic, secure, affordable, socially and culturally acceptable, provides privacy and ensures dignity in a non discriminatory manner”, she concludes. “However, only looking at sanitation through the lens of other human rights does not do justice to its special nature, and its importance for living a dignified life”, she adds.

In 2009, Ms. De Albuquerque has chosen to focus on the human rights obligations related to sanitation. She held an expert consultation, and a public consultation, to inform her work on this issue in April. As a follow up to that meeting the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) published a position statement in which they voiced their support for the recognition of “sanitation as a stand alone right apart from the right to water.”

In March and June2009, Catarina de Albuquerque visited Costa Rica and Egypt respectively, to assess the how these countries were implementing their human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation. Ms de Albuquerque encourage the Egyptian Government in particular to give priority to sanitation in all unserved, or underserved areas, including rural areas as well as informal settlements. She welcomed the government’s the rural sanitation strategy which calls for a 20 billion Egyptian pounds (approximately 4 billion US dollars) investment in rural sanitation.

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One response to “Right to sanitation: UN independent expert’s report to be presented in September

  1. Interesting to hear sanitation talked about as it’s own human right. The importance of water’s “less sexy cousin” sanitation seems to be garnering a lot of attention lately.

    Here is a great video on the topic posted by an EWB-Canada volunteer working in Zambia.

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