Statement to Human Rights Council on Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation

UN Human Rights Council 27th session
September 2014, Geneva
Oral Statement given by the
Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
In relation to Item #3, Clustered Interactive Dialogue with
Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation
Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Wastes

Lucy McKernan water statement

Lucy McKernan, GI-ESCR UN Liaison addresses the Human Rights Council

The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would like to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation on her term as mandate holder which she has conducted with great energy, passion, rigor and dedication. We congratulate her on the outstanding contribution she has made to the advancement of the rights to water and sanitation both in terms of their substantive content and their prominence in the work of the Council. We pay tribute to her excellent work on good practices, stigma, private sector participation, sustainability and her strong advocacy on the inclusion of human rights standards and monitoring mechanisms in the post-2015 development agenda and eliminating inequalities in that context.

We also welcome the Special Rapporteur’s report on ‘Common violations of the human rights to water and sanitation’ which provides useful practical guidance to States and other actors on what violations look like, how to avoid them and how to remedy them. We commend the constructive tone of the report and its invitation to participatory dialogue with States and the emphasis on assisting States with prevention.

The Report reaffirms the ‘comprehensive understanding of violations’ of to the rights to water and sanitation: an approach which is equally applicable to other economic and social rights, and is supported by the language of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This comprehensive approach says that violations include:

  • interferences with the right, such as the impact of the Gaza Blockade and recent assault on Gaza on water and sanitation infrastructure and facilities in Gaza;
  • failures to provide the minimum essential levels of the right, such as the large scale disconnections of water services from poor households in Detroit, US earlier this year;
  • failures to take positive steps to realize the right, such as in Turkana county in Kenya where 80% of the population practice open defecation, yet the government has allocated discriminatory allocation of water or sanitation services, such as is seen in the appalling conditions of urban slums all around the world.

A comprehensive understanding of violations is critical to addressing structural and systemic violations involving the ‘greatest number of victims’ and ‘the most intolerable deprivations’ and to helping us to identify and prevent violations.

We invite States to welcome this important Report and to review their implementation of the rights to water and sanitation in their country through the lens of a comprehensive violations framework.



The Report can be accessed HERE

Lucy McKernan
Geneva Representative, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
E: [email protected]
P: +41 (0)79 103 7719


Categories Uncategorized | Tags: | Posted on September 10, 2014

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