Original HRC document

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Document Type: Final Resolution

Date: 2018 Oct

Session: 39th Regular Session (2018 Sep)

Agenda Item: Item3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development

GE.18-16416(E)



Human Rights Council Thirty-ninth session

10–28 September 2018

Agenda item 3

Resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council on 27 September 2018

39/8. The human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation

The Human Rights Council,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling General Assembly resolution 64/292 of 28 July 2010, in which the

Assembly recognized the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation as essential for

the full enjoyment of the right to life and all other human rights,

Reaffirming all previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council and the General

Assembly on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, inter alia, Council

resolution 33/10 of 29 September 2016 and Assembly resolution 72/178 of 19 December

2017,

Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political

Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial

Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against

Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of

Persons with Disabilities,

Recalling also the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, which reaffirms

that all human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, including

the right to development,

Reaffirming General Assembly resolution 70/1 of 25 September 2015, entitled

“Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, ensuring to

leave no one behind,

Recalling that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development covers the issue of the

human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and other water-related Sustainable

Development Goals, including Goal 6 on ensuring the availability and sustainable

management of water and sanitation for all, which comprises important targets relating to

the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as health and hygiene, and

acknowledges the need for an integrated approach to Goal 6 that reflects the interlinkages

between achieving universal and equitable access to safe drinking water, sanitation and

hygiene, while also striving to improve the quality and safety of water, reduce the number

of people suffering from water scarcity and ensure special attention to the needs and rights

of women and girls,

United Nations A/HRC/RES/39/8

Recalling also General Assembly resolution 71/222 of 21 December 2016, by which

the Assembly proclaimed the period from 2018 to 2028 the International Decade for

Action, “Water for Sustainable Development”,

Recalling further the relevant commitments and initiatives promoting the human

rights to safe drinking water and sanitation made at the 2014 high-level meeting of the

Sanitation and Water for All partnership and in the Ngor Declaration on Sanitation and

Hygiene, adopted at the fourth African Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene in 2015, the

Dhaka Declaration, adopted at the sixth South Asian Conference on Sanitation in 2016, the

Lima Declaration, adopted at the fourth Latin American and Caribbean Conference on

Sanitation in 2016, and the Dar es Salaam road map for achieving the Ngor commitments

on water security and sanitation in Africa, adopted at the sixth Africa Water Week in 2016,

and noting the Budapest Water Summit 2016 and its recommendations, the call for action

of the high-level symposium on the theme “Sustainable Development Goal 6 and targets:

ensuring that no one is left behind in access to water and sanitation”, held in Dushanbe in

2016, the seventh South Asian Conference on Sanitation, held in Islamabad in 2018, and

the High-level International Conference on the International Decade for Action “Water for

Sustainable Development”, held in Dushanbe in 2018,

Welcoming the work of the World Health Organization and the United Nations

Children’s Fund in the 2017 update published by their Joint Monitoring Programme for

Water Supply and Sanitation,

Welcoming also the fact that, according to a report by the Joint Monitoring

Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation in 2015, an estimated 71 per cent of the global

population uses a safely managed drinking water service system, while being deeply

concerned, however, that 12 per cent of the global population still lacks even a basic

drinking water system,

Deeply concerned that 844 million people lack a basic water service, 2.1 billion

people lack access to safe drinking water that is available when needed and free from

contamination in their homes, 4.5 billion people lack access to safely managed sanitation

and 892 million people still practise open defecation,

Welcoming the fact that the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and

Sanitation has established an extensive global database and has been instrumental in

developing global norms to benchmark progress, while taking into consideration the fact

that official figures do not always capture all the dimensions of the human rights to water

and sanitation,

Deeply concerned that the lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation and

hygiene underlies severe human costs, such as poor health and high mortality rates, and

major economic losses, and affirming that affordability, accessibility, availability and

quality, as human rights criteria ensuring the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation,

require, inter alia, that water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and services are within the

safe physical reach of all sections of the population without discrimination of any kind and

are accessible at a price that is affordable to all,

Expressing concern that climate change has contributed and continues to contribute

to the increased frequency and intensity of both sudden-onset natural disasters and slow-

onset events, and that these events have adverse effects on the full enjoyment of all human

rights, including the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation,

Deeply concerned that women and girls often face particular barriers in their

enjoyment of the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, which are exacerbated in

humanitarian crises, and that they shoulder the main burden of collecting household water

in many parts of the world, which constitutes a major impediment to the achievement of

their economic empowerment, independence and social and economic development,

Deeply concerned also that widespread silence and stigma surrounding menstruation

and menstrual hygiene mean that women and girls often lack basic information thereon, are

excluded and stigmatized and are thus prevented from realizing their full potential,

Deeply concerned further that the lack of access to adequate water and sanitation

services, including for menstrual hygiene management, especially in schools, workplaces,

health centres, and public facilities and buildings, negatively affects gender equality and

women’s and girls’ enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to education, health,

safe and healthy working conditions and to participate in public affairs,

Deeply concerned that women and girls are particularly at risk of and exposed to

attacks, sexual and gender-based violence, harassment and other threats to their safety

while collecting household water and when accessing sanitation facilities outside their

homes, or practising open defecation,

Deeply alarmed that water, sanitation and hygiene-related diseases have a

disproportionate impact on children and that, in humanitarian crises, including in times of

conflict or natural disasters, children suffer the most from interruptions in water and

sanitation services, and underscoring that progress on reducing child mortality, morbidity

and stunting is linked to children’s and women’s access to safe drinking water and

sanitation services,

Reaffirming the responsibility of States to ensure the respect, promotion and

protection of all human rights, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and

interrelated and must be treated globally, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing

and with the same emphasis,

Recalling that the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation are derived

from the right to an adequate standard of living and are inextricably related to the right to

the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and to the right to life and

human dignity,

Reaffirming the importance of eliminating discrimination and inequalities in the

enjoyment of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation on the grounds of race,

gender, age, disability, ethnicity, culture, religion and national or social origin or on any

other grounds, and with a view to eliminating discrimination and inequalities based on

factors such as rural-urban disparities, substandard housing, income levels or other relevant

considerations,

Affirming the importance of national programmes and policies in ensuring the

progressive realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation,

Stressing the importance of monitoring and reporting on the implementation of the

Sustainable Development Goals and targets, including Goal 6 on ensuring the availability

and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,

Affirming the importance of regional and international technical cooperation, where

appropriate, as a means to promote the progressive realization of the human rights to safe

drinking water and sanitation without any prejudice to questions of international water law,

including international watercourse law,

Recognizing the important role that civil society plays at the local, national, regional

and international levels in facilitating the achievement of the purposes and principles of the

United Nations, fundamental freedoms and human rights, including the human rights to

safe drinking water and sanitation,

1. Reaffirms that the human right to safe drinking water entitles everyone,

without discrimination, to have access to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible

and affordable water for personal and domestic use, and that 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, while reaffirming that both rights

are essential and components of the right to an adequate standard of living;

2. Welcomes the work of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe

drinking water and sanitation, and takes note with appreciation of his report on the theme of

the human rights to water and sanitation of forcibly displaced persons;1

3. Reaffirms that States have the primary responsibility to ensure the full

realization of all human rights and must take steps, nationally and through international

assistance and cooperation, especially economic and technical, to the maximum of their

available resources, to achieve progressively the full realization of the rights to safe

drinking water and sanitation by all appropriate means, including in particular the adoption

of legislative measures in the implementation of their human rights obligations;

4. Also reaffirms that the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation are

interrelated, but have features that warrant distinct treatment in order to address specific

challenges in their implementation;

5. Stresses the important role of international cooperation and technical

assistance by States, specialized agencies of the United Nations system and international

and development partners and donor agencies, in particular in the timely achievement of the

relevant Sustainable Development Goals, and urges development partners to adopt a human

rights-based approach when designing, implementing and monitoring development

programmes in support of national initiatives and plans of action relating to the rights to

safe drinking water and sanitation;

6. Underlines the importance of an effective remedy for violations of economic,

social and cultural rights, including the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation,

and in this regard of judicial, quasi-judicial and other appropriate remedies, including

procedures initiated by or on behalf of individuals or, as appropriate, groups of individuals,

and of adequate procedures to avoid infringements of such rights with a view to ensuring

justice for all for violations in the context of the realization of the rights to safe drinking

water and sanitation as essential and components of the right to an adequate standard of

living, including taking the measures necessary to ensure that women and girls and persons

at risk have equal access to effective remedies;

7. Notes with concern that, in spite of all efforts, gender inequalities still exist in

the realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation;

8. Calls upon States:

(a) To implement the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals and

targets, including Goal 6 on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water

and sanitation for all, in accordance with their obligations under international law;

(b) To ensure the progressive realization of the human rights to safe drinking

water and sanitation for all in a non-discriminatory manner while eliminating inequalities in

access, including for persons at risk and marginalized groups, on the grounds of race,

gender, age, disability, ethnicity, culture, religion and national or social origin or on any

other grounds;

(c) To monitor continuously and analyse regularly the status of the realization of

the human rights to water and sanitation and to enhance efforts to improve the availability,

accessibility, quality and use of water-related data at the local, national and regional levels,

and to develop disaggregated and gender-responsive indicators and monitoring

mechanisms;

(d) To promote both women’s leadership and their full, effective and equal

participation in decision-making on water and sanitation management, to ensure that a

gender-based approach is adopted in relation to water and sanitation programmes, including

measures to reduce the time spent by women and girls in collecting household water, in

order to address the negative impact of inadequate water and sanitation services on the

access of girls to education, to protect women and girls from being physically threatened or

assaulted, including from sexual violence, while collecting household water and when

1 A/HRC/39/55.

accessing sanitation facilities outside of their home or practising open defecation, to protect

women’s and girls’ equal access to water and sanitation and to take positive measures to

guarantee the availability and accessibility of these rights;

(e) To address the widespread stigma and shame surrounding menstruation and

menstrual hygiene by ensuring access to factual information thereon, addressing the

negative social norms around the issue and ensuring universal access to hygienic products

and gender-sensitive facilities, including disposal options for menstrual products;

(f) To make efforts to mitigate the disproportionate impact of water-, sanitation-

and hygiene-related diseases on children and reduce child mortality, morbidity and stunting

by ensuring the progressive realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and

sanitation;

(g) To consult and coordinate with local communities and other stakeholders,

including civil society and the private sector, on adequate solutions to ensure sustainable

access to safe drinking water and sanitation;

(h) To provide for effective accountability mechanisms to ensure that all water

and sanitation service providers, including private sector providers, respect human rights

and do not cause or contribute to human rights violations or abuses;

9. Encourages all Governments to continue to respond favourably to requests

by the Special Rapporteur for visits and information, to follow up effectively on the

recommendations of the mandate holder and to make available information on measures

taken in this regard;

10. Requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner

for Human Rights to provide the Special Rapporteur with all the resources and assistance

necessary for the effective fulfilment of the mandate;

11. Decides to continue its consideration of this matter under the same agenda

item at its forty-second session.

39th meeting

27 September 2018

[Adopted by a recorded vote of 44 to 1, with 2 abstentions. The voting was as follows:

In favour:

Angola, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Burundi, Chile, China, Côte d’Ivoire,

Croatia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Georgia,

Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Nepal,

Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea,

Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain,

Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom

of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)

Against:

Kyrgyzstan

Abstaining:

Afghanistan, Ethiopia]