Right to Water and Sanitation
Rights and Humanity has long advocated recognition of the right to water and sanitation as an integral part of human rights. Despite the obvious vital nature of water to life, a few states still argue that there is no ‘right’ to water.
Inaugural WaterAid Lecture
In September 1999, our President was invited to present the inaugural WaterAid lecture at City University, London, UK entitled “A Human Rights Approach to Development: Some Practical Implications for WaterAid’s Work”. WaterAid is an international NGO dedicated exclusively to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people. Ms Häusermann argued that WaterAid’s contribution would be strengthened by adopting a human rights approach in both its advocacy and field projects.
Our President was subsequently invited to join WaterAid’s Policy Advisory Committee and continued to articulate the benefits of adopting a human rights approach to water and sanitation. WaterAid has now made this approach a policy commitment and is reporting considerable benefits from adopting this approach. For instance, its human rights-based advocacy with authorities in Bangladesh has led to the cost of water connection being reduced from $90 a household to $15, ensuring that millions of poor people now have the opportunity to secure connection to safe water.
In 2002, the UN Committee Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted a General Comment confirming that the right to water forms part of the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health, Articles 11 and 12 respectively of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Following the adoption of the General Comment Rights and Humanity joined forces with WaterAid and Freshwater Action Network to establish a website, www.righttowater.org.uk, to promote advocacy and realisation of the rights to water and sanitation globally.
Content of the Website
The site looks at all aspects of water as a human right. It outlines the development of international water policies, as well as international and national human rights law confirming the right to water. It also provides guidance on action to promote the use of the right to water as a tool for community empowerment and advocacy.
To gain examples of best practice in advocating the right to water, Rights and Humanity commissioned case studies from organisations working in the developing world.
Rights and Humanity began updating the website in 2007, and this is an ongoing process. In 2008, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions joined our consortium to help update the website on a regular basis.