Where are we concerning the human right to water and sanitation?
2010 was a successful year for the rights to water and sanitation. Both, the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) recognized the right to water and sanitation. These resolutions are of great political significance, in particular by putting sanitation on par with water. Moreover, they confirm that the right is part of international law.
The HRC resolution explicitly derives the right to water and sanitation from the right to an adequate standard of living as guaranteed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These guarantees can be specified by the criteria of availability, quality, acceptability, accessibility and affordability. Furthermore, countries have corresponding obligations to respect, protect and fulfill the rights as well as to avoid discrimination.
The recognition is only a first step. It is essential to implement and enforce these rights in order to make them reality in the lives of billions who still lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation.