In the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 2000, States made a commitment to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of people with no access to safe drinking water and to sanitation. Access to safe drinking water and to sanitation should therefore be an absolute priority for the international community. However, with only a few years to go, we must face the fact that despite the efforts that have been made – which include declaring: the 22nd March ‘World Water Day’ (since 1993); 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater; and 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation – there has been insufficient progress. If we continue in this way, the Millennium objectives will not be achieved by 2015.
In an attempt to reverse this trend, Civil Society Organizations, supported by United Nations agencies and a number of States, have made the promotion and the protection of the right to water and the right to sanitation a priority. In the hope that this strategy will highlight the question of rights and make States accountable, these organizations are exerting pressure to obtain a greater recognition, a clearer definition and a more effective implementation of these fundamental rights.
The aim of this critical report is to promote the protection of the right to water and the right to sanitation. In the first part, we describe the problems of access to water and to sanitation in the world today and identify the ways in which different uses of water compete with each other (I). In the second part, we look at how the right to water and to sanitation is recognized and defined at international, regional and national levels. In the third part, we outline the position taken by various organizations on the right to water and the right to sanitation and we describe the current state of discussions on these rights within the United Nations.
Annex 1 – General Comment n°15, The right to water (articles 11 et 12), CESCR, E/C.12/2002/11 (20 January 2003)
Annex 2 – Report of the UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, Human Rights Council, A/HRC/12/24 (1st July 2009)
Annex 3 – Report of the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, Human Rights Council, A/HRC/10/6 (25 February 2009)
Annex 5 – Report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly, International Year of Sanitation A/64/169, §3-4 (24 July 2009)
Annex 6 – Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the scope and content of the relevant human rights obligations related to equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation under international human rights instruments, Human Rights Council A/HRC/6/3 (16 August 2007
Annexe 10 – Report of the Special Rapporteur El Hadji Guissé, Relationship between the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights and the promotion of the realization of the right to drinking water supply and sanitation, Commission on Human Rights, E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/20 (14 July 2004)
Annex 12 – Report 2003 of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, The right to food, Commission on Human Rights, E/CN.4/2003/54 (10 January 2003)
Annex 13 – Report 2001 of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, General Assembly, The right to food, A/56/210 (23 July 2001)