Human rights to water and sanitation resolution passed!

18 Dec 2015

It’s done! The United Nations General Assembly, as of yesterday 17 December 2015, passed and adopted the resolution on the human rights to water and sanitation. This resolution recognises the distinction between the human right to water and that of sanitation, which is a fundamentally important step in the recognition of the prioritisation of sanitation. It is now official- everyone has the human rights to water and sanitation! 

The text was adopted by consensus, so all UN Member State have now agreed the following:

  • Recognition of the right to water and the right to sanitation as distinct rights. They remain related and both are derived from the right to an adequate standard of living. The ‘plural’ brings much needed clarification and prioritisation of sanitation. 
  • Both rights bring clear entitlements. UN Member States have recognised this as follows: 

o   Everyone is entitled “to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use”.

o   Everyone is entitled “to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity.”

The resolution also highlights the gender-specific impacts of inadequate water and sanitation services. In particular, the reinforcement of widespread stigma associated with menstruation when water and sanitation services are inadequate, and the impact this has on other human rights, such as the right to education for girls.

This is a fantastic achievement on behalf of advocates in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, and comes as a result of much hard work! End Water Poverty is delighted to have helped push for this resolution to have passed. Congratulations to all those who helped make this great success a reality. 

Read the Joint NGO statement  released by EWP member WASH United, along with Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International about the importance of this resolution. And find the draft text of The Human Rights To Water And Sanitation UN resolution 70/169.