Realizing the human rights to water and sanitation: A Handbook

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. September 2014

Since 2010, when the United Nation General Assembly explicitly recognized the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and the Human Rights Council reaffirmed this recognition, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation has received repeated requests to provide guidance from States (both national and local), service providers, regulators and others, to clarify what this human right would imply for their work and activities. In fact this recognition has given an increased visibility to the water, sanitation and hygiene sector and many sector professionals see human rights as an opportunity to raise political support for these essential services. The Special Rapporteur has been working closely with several organizations interested in understanding what the human rights to water and sanitation mean for their work, and how to translate these rights into practice.

Summary

This handbook aims to clarify the meaning of the human rights to water and sanitation; explain the obligations that arise from these rights; provide guidance on implementing the human rights to water and sanitation; share some examples of good practice and show how these rights are being implemented; explore how States can be held to account for delivering on their obligations; provide its users with checklists, so they can assess how far they are complying with the human rights to water and sanitation. The target audiences for this Handbook are governments at all levels, donors and national regulatory bodies. It provides information that will also be useful to other local, regional and international stakeholders, including civil society, service providers and human rights organisations.

The Handbook is organised into booklets relating to five main areas relevant to States working towards realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation. These areas are:

(1) Legislative, policy and regulatory frameworks;

(2) Financing and budgeting;

(3) Services;

(4) Monitoring;

(5) Access to justice.

One further booklet (Principles) highlights State obligations relating to specific human rights principles: participation, non-discrimination and equality, access to information and sustainability.    


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