In a statement issued on 27 June 2012, the UK Government officially recognises sanitation as a human right under international law. However, in their interpretation of this right, the government excludes “the collection and transport of human waste”. It also does not accept, in their entirety, specific U.N. documents on the right to water and sanitation.
The UK had originally abstained from voting on the resolution on the right to water and sanitation at the UN General Assembly in 2010. It stated then that it did not believe that there was a sufficient legal basis under international law to declare sanitation as a human right.
Facing growing international pressure by NGOs and UN Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque, the UK announced on 15 June 2012 that it would support the inclusion of commitments to the right both to safe drinking water and to sanitation as a human right in the Rio+20 outcome document.
What the implications are of the UK’s interpretation of the right to sanitation is unclear. Maybe the government should send their legal advisers to a slum during the rainy season to see what happens when there is no adequate collection and transport of human waste.
- Rio+20: Canada finally recognises human right to water and sanitation, E-Source, 13 Jun 2012
- Right to water and sanitation: finally declared legally binding in international law, E-Source, 19 Oct 2010
Related web sites:
- FAN – Realizing the rights to water and sanitation
- OHCHR –Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation
- UK recognises right to sanitation, UK FCO, 27 Jun 2012
- Isabella Montgomery, UK Government supports right to sanitation inclusion at Rio+20, FAN, Jun 2012