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News UN Human Rights Council Resolution on the rights to water and sanitation

At the end of its last session in September 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted without a vote a resolution on the rights to water and sanitation. The unedited version of the resolution that was adopted is attached and available here:


Focusing on national plans of action, the resolution called upon States, among other things, to:


- Ensure that national minimum standards, based on human rights criteria, are in place when water and sanitation services are decentralized, in order to ensure coherence and countrywide compliance with human rights;


- Set access targets to be reached in short-time periods for universal service provision, giving priority to realizing a basic level of service for everyone before improving service levels for those already served;


- Set indicators, including disaggregated data, based on human rights criteria, to monitor progress and to identify shortcomings to be rectified and challenges to be met;


- Assess whether the existing legislative and policy framework is in line with the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, and to repeal, amend or adapt it in order to meet human rights standards and principles;


- Provide for a regulatory framework aimed at ensuring that all water and sanitation service providers respect and protect human rights and do not cause human rights violations or abuses,


- Provide for a framework of accountability that provides for adequate monitoring mechanisms and legal remedies, including measures to overcome obstacles in access to justice and other accountability mechanisms and lack of awareness of the law, human rights and opportunities to claim these rights


- Ensure full transparency of the monitoring and assessment of the implementation of plans of action, projects and programmes in the sectors of water and sanitation and to ensure, including in the planning process, the free, effective, meaningful and non-discriminatory participation of all people and communities concerned, particularly people living in disadvantaged, marginalized and vulnerable situations;


- Ensure financing to the maximum of available resources in order to implement all the necessary measures to ensure that water and sanitation systems are sustainable and that services are affordable for everyone, while ensuring that allocated resources are not limited to infrastructure, but also include resources for regulatory activities, operation and maintenance, the institutional and managerial structure and structural measures, including increasing capacity;


The Human Rights Council acknowledged with appreciation the third annual report of the Special Rapporteur, on National Plans of Action for the Realization of the Rights to Water and Sanitation. The Council also welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s of good practices on the rights to water and sanitation. These two documents by the Special Rapportuer are available at:


The Council repeated the text of its previous resolution stating that it “welcomes the recognition of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council, and the affirmation by the latter that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the right to an adequate standard of living and inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, as well as the right to life and human dignity.” As the right to an adequate standard of living is contained in several international human rights treaties, the resolution affirms that the rights to water and sanitation are therefore implicitly contained in these treaties and binding in international law.


The resolution was co-sponsored by 65 States including: Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Chad, Chile, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Palestine, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Macedonia, Maldives, Republic of Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Romania, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uruguay, Zimbabwe and Yemen.

Contact information Ashfaq Khalfan Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Policy Coordinator (Legal Enforcement) Demand Dignity and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Programme International Secretariat, Amnesty International 1 Easton Street, London, WC1X 0DW, UK (email: )
Phone: +442030365496 Mobile: +447899805445
News type Inbrief
File link
File link local HRC2011ResolutionWatsan.pdf (PDF, 47 Kb)
Source of information DEMAND DIGNITY
Keyword(s) right to water and sanitation
Geographical coverage Palestine
News date 27/10/2011
Working language(s) ENGLISH