In 2010 the United nations general Assembly adopted resolution 64/292 that explicitly recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation are essential to the realisation of all human rights. The Resolution calls upon States and international organisations to provide financial resources, help capacity-building and technology transfer to help countries, in particular developing countries, to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.
Water and sanitation as two separate human rights.
The 2010 united nations general assembly resolution that explicitly recognises the human right to water and sanitation, along with the un human Rights council resolution of the same year. However, the special Rapporteur argues that water and sanitation should be treated as two distinct human rights with equal status, both included within the human right to an adequate standard of living. There are pragmatic reasons for this approach: all too often, when water and sanitation are mentioned together, the importance of sanitation is downgraded because of the political and cultural preference given to the
right to water. Defining the human rights to water and sanitation as separate and distinct allows governments, civil society and other stakeholders to create standards specifically for the human right to sanitation and for its realisation. Distinguishing between these two rights also makes it easier for states and other stakeholders to understand the distinct responsibilities, obligations and roles implicit in the realisation of each of them. The situation of people who lack sanitation differs from that of people who
lack water. One household’s lack of adequate, safe and hygienic sanitation can have a negative impact on the health not just of the people in that dwelling, but also on others living nearby (even where these neighbours do have access to sanitation). This means that people have a responsibility to improve their sanitation, for the sake of those around them as well as their own. One household’s lack of access to water, on the other hand, would not generally have such an impact on the health and access to water of its neighbours.
In 2015 the United Nations recognised the human right to sanitation as a distinct human right. The human right to sanitation entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity. Sanitation is personal, collective and a common good. Sanitation is not only about constructing toilets or sewerage. It is about understanding people’s needs and finding safe and sustainable solutions that ensure everyone’s dignity. Therefore, realizing the human right to sanitation is not a simple task. There is no short cut. We need to keep openly talking about sanitation and working on it with strong commitments from all actors. EuSAIN cooperates with the UN special Rapporteur, Leo Heller, to advance the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation and especially to catch up implementation of the human right to sanitation.