The human rights to water and sanitation

Water is a human right. Sanitation is a human right. At End Water Poverty, we campaign for the human rights to water and sanitation to be respected, protected and fulfilled.

In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognised the human right to water and sanitation. The right is fundamental to the realisation of all human rights, and has been implicitly and explicitly recognised in treaties and conventions from 1948’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights through to the 2012 Rio+20 summit outcome document, The Future We Want.

But many countries are failing to live up to legal obligations they endorsed. They are failing to take the steps necessary to ensure the human right to water and sanitation is realised.

 The human rights outlines standards and principles realising the rights water and sanitation: under the human right’s standards, everyone is entitled to sufficient and continuous water for personal and domestic use. Water must be safe for consumption, while sanitation must be hygienic. Water and sanitation facilities must be accessible and affordable, and sanitation facilities culturally acceptable.

Governments must uphold human rights principles of focusing on the most disadvantaged and marginalised, and on the inequalities and discrimination at the heart of social injustice and inequality. Governments must also enable participation, accountability and empowerment, and prioritise the needs and wants of people, regardless of race, class, gender or sexuality. End Water Poverty believes that the human rights framework provides the solutions to water and sanitation poverty. Through our Keep Your Promises campaign, advocating for the human right to water and sanitation is a central part of our work.

End Water Poverty is a partner in the righttowater.info website. This site is a key resource helping to provide information on why water and sanitation as human rights are key to achieving universal access to safe water and sanitation. The site is a comprehensive one-stop-shop information hub, showing what progress has been made in getting the rights recognised and what impact the implementation of the rights has made so far. Learn about ways in which you can get involved, how to use the rights-based approach in your advocacy work and read the lastest news. 

Key resources on the human rights to water and sanitation: