WSSCC Endorses Sanitation as a Human Right

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has submitted its official position on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation to Ms. Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN’s Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to safe drinking water and sanitation. The WSSCC submitted its statement as a follow-up to an expert meeting held from 27 to 29 April 2009 in Geneva.

The WSSCC position statement is reproduced below:

WSSCC’s contribution on the issue of human right to water and sanitation

“The WSSCC welcomes the creation of the mandate of the Independent Expert for the clarification of human rights obligations to sanitation and water. WSSCC strongly supports the focus of the current consultation on sanitation, as it is also in line with its organizational aim. Improving sanitation is indispensable for human development and otherwise too often neglected.

WSSCC advocates for a human right to sanitation based on a narrow definition of sanitation, primarily focusing on the collection, transport, treatment and disposal or re-use of human excreta and to lesser extent on wastewater, solid waste or storm water. We further support sanitation as a stand alone right apart from the right to water. Emphasis on culturally appropriate systems is hereby of vital importance to ensure acceptance and sustainability of sanitation systems. The right to sanitation creates a legal framework within which stakeholder participation is of utter importance to demand legal entitlements from responsible parties which can be held accountable. The right to sanitation should however not imply that governments are obliged to provide access but rather that they create favourable policies which support demand creation and thus help enable access. This approach facilitates implementation through public, private and household options reflecting the reality of sanitation systems and encourages states to progressively realise the human right to sanitation.

WSSCC would be delighted to see the people’s access to sanitation endorsed through the process and through the creation of a formal human right. Indeed, the formal recognition would ascribe sanitation the attention it since long deserves in the context of improving health, dignity and welfare of all”.

See also the WSSCC page on Human rights to water and sanitation

Source: WSSCC newsletter, July 2009

2 responses to “WSSCC Endorses Sanitation as a Human Right

  1. Pingback: Recent urban health posts to Sanitation Updates news feed « Urban Health Updates

  2. One of the main reasons governments refuse to recognize a human right to water and a right to sanitation is because they are afraid to fail – afraid of being accountable if they fall short of the obligation that would accompany a right to water. Yet, ensuring a human right to water is actually be in the best interests of most governments. You can find our why at

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