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The rights to water and sanitation require that these are available, accessible, safe, acceptable and affordable for all without discrimination. The rights to water and sanitation further require an explicit focus on the most disadvantaged and marginalized, as well as an emphasis on participation, empowerment, accountability and transparency.
Article 14 (2)
States parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular shall ensure to women the right:
(h) To enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.
The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women considered that this article obliges States parties to take all appropriate measures to ensure adequate living conditions in relation to water and sanitation, which are critical for the prevention of diseases and the promotion of good health care. ( Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, general recommendation No. 24 (1999) on article 12 of the Convention (women and health), para. 28)
1. States parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health …
2. States parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
(c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, (…) the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking water (…)
The United Nation Committee on the Rights of the Child underlined that under article 24 States have a responsibility to ensure access to clean drinking water and that such access is particularly essential for young children’s health. ( Committee on the Rights of the Child, general comment No. 7 (2006) on implementing child rights in early childhood, para. 27)
Article 28 – Adequate standard of living and social protection
2. States parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to social protection and to the enjoyment of that right without discrimination on the basis of disability, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right, including measures:
(a) To ensure equal access by persons with disabilities to clean water services, and to ensure access to appropriate and affordable services, devices and other assistance for disability-related needs.
Without prejudice to the responsibility of each employer for the health and safety of the workers in his employment, … occupational health services shall have such of the following functions …:
(b) Surveillance of the factors in the working environment and working practice which may affect workers’ health, including sanitary installations, …
1. Every child shall have the right to enjoy the best attainable standard of physical, mental and spiritual health.
2. States parties to the present Charter shall undertake to pursue the full implementation of this right and in particular shall take measures: …
(c) To ensure the provision of adequate nutrition and safe drinking water.
Article 15: Right to Food Security
States parties shall ensure that women have the right to nutritious and adequate food. In this regard, they shall take appropriate measures to:
(a) Provide women with access to clean drinking water, …
Also see resolutions of the Human Rights council (HRC Resolutions 12/8, 7/22 and 2./104 here).
The mandate of the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation was established in 2008, to examine crucial issues relating to water and sanitation from a human rights perspective and provide recommendations to the Human Rights Council, and other actors in this regard. The Independent Expert is called upon to undertake specific tasks:
(a) Firstly, on developing a dialogue with Governments, the relevant United Nations bodies, the private sector, local authorities, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and academic institutions, to identify, promote and exchange views on best practices related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, and, in that regard, to prepare a compendium of best practices;
(b) Secondly, on advancing the work by undertaking a study, in cooperation with and reflecting the views of Governments and relevant United Nations bodies, and in further cooperation with the private sector, local authorities, national human rights institutions, civil society organizations and academic institutions, on the further clarification of the content of human rights obligations, including non-discrimination obligations, in relation to access to safe drinking water and sanitation;
(c) Thirdly, on making recommendations that could help the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular of Goal 7.
ANNUAL REPORTS: The Independent Expert also undertakes country missions with the aim of examining the situation of water and sanitation at the national level, identifying good practices, and making recommendations to the Government on steps to improve access and ensure protection of human rights associated with water and sanitation. View Annual Reports
COUNTRY VISITS: The Independent Expert also undertakes country missions with the aim of examining the situation of water and sanitation at the national level, identifying good practices, and making recommendations to the Government on steps to improve access and ensure protection of human rights associated with water and sanitation. View Country Reports
The Independent expert on water and sanitation has taken the following issues requiring further study, as the starting point for her mandate. These issues include: