Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Independent Expert on Rights to Water and Sanitation welcomes FAN's Activist Handbook on International Human Rights Day

Catarina de Albuquerque, United Nations Independent Expert on the issue of human

Catarina de Albuquerque, United Nations Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation shares her views on Freshwater Action Network's new Activist Handbook for international Human Rights Day. 

In recent years much international progress has been made in the recognition of the right to water and sanitation. Since General Comment 15 was published in 2002 for instance, more countries have enshrined these rights within their domestic laws, thus providing protection for individuals lacking access to water and sanitation. In 2010, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing the right to water and sanitation, and the Human Rights Council further specified that this right is part of the right to an adequate standard of living. The Human Rights Council resolution is significant in anchoring the right to water and sanitation in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which has been ratified by most countries of the world, thus making the right to water and sanitation immediately binding.  

None of these achievements could have been accomplished without the hard work and dedication of civil society organizations. 

Activist Handbook front coverDespite all the progress that groups throughout the world have managed to achieve, the Joint Monitoring Programme, formed by UNICEF and WHO, have calculated that if current trends on sanitation continue, the world will fail to meet the Millennium Development Goal target by half a billion people. There is thus a great deal more to be done. 

As the Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, I rely on civil society to help identify and promote best practices related to the provision of safe drinking water and sanitation. So I welcome the publication of the FAN Activist Handbook and hope that it will provide civil society organizations with the intrinsic tools needed to use and support the recently strengthened international framework and as great introduction to advocacy processes and how to influence decision makers for those who are just getting started in this important work. 

The human rights to water and sanitation obligate governments as duty bearers. However, civil society plays a fundamental role in holding governments to account and should be involved at all levels.

The FAN Activist Handbook is a valuable tool towards strengthening this engagement.

Download the Activist's Handbook: English (PDF 1Mb) French (PDF 3Mb) Spanish (PDF 2.3 Mb) 

Also, visit the relaunched Rights to Water and Sanitation website - an information portal on the rights to water and sanitation 

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