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Mandate for Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation Adopted by UN HR Council

March 25th, 2011

Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk-Franco discusses her village's sewer system with the U.N. Independent Expert Catarina de Albuquerque.

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution this morning extending the mandate on the human right to safe water and sanitation for another three years, and changing the powers of the Independent Expert to that of a special rapporteur.

This is good news. The mandate will continue with Catarina de Albuquerque in the position of Special Rapporteur. In this position, she will have enhanced powers: in addition to assisting governments to define the scope and content of the rights, she can engage with governments about complaints from affected individuals, communities, and civil society organizations on issues related to and possible violations of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Furthermore, the resolution explicitly states the full list of criteria for the human rights to water and sanitation. These are listed below:

The Human Rights Council:

5. Encourages the Special Rapporteur, in fulfilling his or her mandate:

(a) To promote the full realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation by, inter alia, continuing to give particular emphasis to practical solutions with regard to its implementation, in particular in the context of country missions, and following the criteria of availability, quality, physical accessibility, affordability and acceptability;

(b) To pay particular attention to persons belonging to vulnerable and marginalized groups, including by respecting the principles of non-discrimination and gender equality;

(c) To work on identifying challenges and obstacles to the full realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, as well as protection gaps thereto, and to continue to identify good practices and enabling factors in this regard;

(d) To monitor the way in which the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is being realized throughout the world;

(e) To continue the mutual dialogue with Governments and where appropriate, with local authorities, organizations and bodies of the United Nations system, other relevant international and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and other concerned stakeholders, such as indigenous peoples;

(f) To make recommendations for goals beyond the 2015 Millennium

Development Goals process with special regard to the full realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; and also to continue to make more recommendations that could help the realization of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular of Goal 7, as appropriate;

(g) To continue to work in close cooperation, while avoiding unnecessary duplication, with other special procedures and subsidiary organs of the Council, relevant United Nations bodies, the treaty bodies and regional human rights mechanisms;

(h) To continue to report, on an annual basis, to the Council and to the General Assembly;

(i) To facilitate, including through the engagement with relevant stakeholders, the provision of technical assistance in the area of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation;

6. Encourages all Governments to respond favourably to requests by the Special Rapporteur for visits and information and to follow up effectively on recommendations of the mandate holder and to make available information on measures taken in this regard;

7. Stresses the important role of the international cooperation and technical assistance provided by States, specialized agencies of the United Nations system, international and development partners, as well as by donor agencies, in particular in the timely achievement of the relevant Millennium Development Goals, and urges development partners to adopt a human rights-based approach when designing and implementing development programmes in support of national initiatives and action plans related to the enjoyment of access to safe drinking water and sanitation;

8. Requests the Secretary-General and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide the Special Rapporteur with all resources and assistance necessary for the effective fulfilment of her mandate;

9. Decides to continue its consideration of this matter under the same agenda item and in accordance with its programme of work.

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