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Human Rights Council holds interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation

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Concludes Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development

The Human Rights Council this afternoon held an interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

Speaking on the right to water and sanitation were the European Union, Denmark, Burkina Faso, State of Palestine, Fiji, Ecuador, Pakistan, France, Germany, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Armenia, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Djibouti, Libya, Senegal, Iraq, Togo, Morocco, Mexico, South Africa, China (video message), Bangladesh, Paraguay, Botswana, Iran, Cameroon, Switzerland, Venezuela, Nepal, Uruguay, Malaysia, Spain, Sovereign Order of Malta, Holy See (video message), Marshall Islands, Montenegro, Ethiopia, Russian Federation, Sudan, Georgia, Poland, Syria, Egypt, Bolivia, Nauru, Cambodia, Mali, Chad, Hungary, Mongolia, Kenya, Tanzania, Algeria and Azerbaijan.

Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations : Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries, China Society for Human Rights Studies, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Sikh Human Rights Group, Earthjustice, Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man, Franciscans International, Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, Asociación Civil, Make Mothers Matter, International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism, Europe-Third World Centre, China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, iuventum e.V., All-China Environment Federation, Association Ma'onah for Human Rights and Immigration, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Jubilee Campaign, The Next Century Foundation, Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain Inc.

At the beginning of the meeting, the Council concluded its interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

The interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development started in the morning meeting and a summary can be found here.

Algeria took the floor as did the following non-governmental organizations : Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII, Europe-Third World Centre, Global Institute for Water, Environment and Health, Action Canada for Population and Development, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Rencontre Africaine pour la defense des droits de l'homme, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Mother of Hope Cameroon Common Initiative Group, and Beijing NGO Association for International Exchanges.

Brazil, Armenia, Ukraine, China, Israel and Azerbaijan spoke in right of reply at the end of the meeting.

The webcast of the Human Rights Council meetings can be found here. All meeting summaries can be found here. Documents and reports related to the Human Rights Council’s forty-fifth regular session can be found here.

The Council will meet again at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 September, to hold its biennial panel on the right to development.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development

The interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to development started in a previous meeting and a summary can be found here.

Discussion

Noting that international finance institutions had pushed countries to privatize basic social services, speakers stated that fulfilling the right to development for women and girls, required, inter alia, a progressive global tax system, and an intersectional feminist approach. Reducing military expenditures would free up funds that could be invested in social programmes that would contribute to achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. Greater emphasis must be placed on the mobilization of resources in the sustainable development process ; the need to meet the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income dedicated to development assistance financing was greater than it had ever been. Some speakers outlined the merits of women economic empowerment programmes, such as vocational training and the creation of e-commerce platforms.

Concluding Remarks

SAAD ALFARARGI, Special Rapporteur on the right to development, said he was looking forward to continuing the discussion on measures to implement the report’s recommendations. He thanked those who had expressed support for his mandate. To fulfil the right to development, stakeholders must take on the challenge of mobilizing sufficient funds and directing them to those most in need.

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation

Presentation of the Report

LÉO HELLER, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, presenting the report on the progressive realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, said the year 2020 marked the tenth year since the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council recognized safe drinking water and sanitation as human rights. Progressive realization pointed towards the need for States to take stock of the current situation of compliance with the human rights to water and sanitation and identify how best to achieve the adequate level of services for all, without discrimination. States should maximize their financial resources by making efforts to create more resources to ensure the enjoyment of the human rights to water and sanitation. Beyond maximizing the amount of the budget allocated, at the planning stage, was the subsequent step of spending and using those resources, which related to efficient use and corruption control. Mr. Heller said he had organized a year-long campaign throughout 2020, with each month focusing on different themes, and distributed friendly versions of his thematic reports and their findings (blog posts, quizzes, videos, children’s stories, among other forms). The commitments related to water, sanitation and hygiene under the 2030 Agenda were a driver for leaving no one behind, but it would not suffice if States left human rights dimensions of the Agenda to the side.

Discussion

Speakers noted that, while in Africa, some 285 million people still had no access to clean drinking water, and 424 million were without sanitation facilities, the African Union continuously worked towards assisting all its Member States to address such challenges. Some speakers asked the Special Rapporteur about best practices for collaboration with the private sector to combat the adverse impacts of climate change on the progressive realization of the human rights to water and sanitation. A decade after water and sanitation had been explicitly recognized as human rights, the specifics of how to implement them still required further clarification. Limited economic resources and physical space impeded the realization of these rights in some countries, and the situation would likely worsen in that regard because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pointing out that there was a multiplication of water-related crises, speakers underscored the compounding effect of climate change and the ongoing pandemic, not to mention the challenges inherent to developing countries. Were there standards or benchmarks that could be used to assess the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation?

Interim Remarks

LÉO HELLER, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, said “progressive realization” was a key concept for his reports. The COVID-19 pandemic had been a learning experience, as it had required that several countries and development actors consider water and sanitation differently, given the role played by water in preventing the spread of the virus.

Discussion

Speakers said that a reference to debt relief in the Special Rapporteur’s report would have been welcomed. Transgender persons faced barriers to accessing safe and adequate facilities of drinking water and sanitation. With the climate crisis, the obligation of States under the concept of maximum available resources included the obligation to prevent resources from being further diluted or reduced by the anthropogenic global warming. Women and their children bore the brunt of the unpaid work of fetching water, which affected their rights to health, education, paid work and participation in public life.

Concluding Remarks

LÉO HELLER, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, said that progress had been made as some countries had adopted legislation, policies and regulations recognizing the human rights to water and sanitation. At the same time, the pace of implementation of those rights was slow, and needed to be accelerated.

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For use of the information media; not an official record