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UN determined that right is binding under international law
Following the recognition of the human right to drinking water and sanitation several months ago, the United Nations Human Rights Council clarified at a recent session that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is derived from the already existing right to adequate standard of living.
Member states reached a consensus on this decision, which establishes the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation as legally binding in international law.
Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) welcomed the historic decision. Anders Berntell, executive director of SIWI described the decision as “an important step in the work to secure access to drinking water and sanitation for all.” He added that SIWI has actively supported global advocacy efforts to recognize this human right.
The new resolution reaffirms the primary responsibility by states to ensure the full realization of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation. It stipulates that states must ensure transparency, non-discrimination and accountability in the provision of drinking water and sanitation services, whether provided by state or non-state actors (such as private companies, entrepreneurs, NGOs, community-based organizations and state-owned companies).
“It is urgent that all actors collaborate and speed up their efforts to implement the right to safe drinking water and sanitation,” said Berntell. “This is a responsibility for governments as well as local authorities, but also for the international community including international financial institutions and donors.”
According to SIWI, 2.6 billion people worldwide do not have access to basic sanitation and 1.5 million children under five die every year due to water and sanitation-related diseases.