48th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Water and Sanitation


15th September 2021: Item 3 Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation

All sources used to draft the report can be found here. Report drafted by Siran Cheng on September 16, 2021.

Composition of the HRC

Main Report

Mr. Pedro Arrojo Agudo, Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation starts his report with stating that he would like to cooperate with regional and international organizations. The global water crisis is generating a growing wave of socio-environmental conflicts around the world and sometimes fueling conflicts and justifying wars. Today, 2.2 billion people are not guaranteed access to drinking water and 4.3 billion are without basic sanitation. In Mr. Arrojo Agudo's opinion the fundamental causes of the crisis are two structural flaws in the current development model. Firstly, the unsustainability of aquatic ecosystems is caused by humans and secondly, poverty inequality and discrimination arising from the prevailing socio-economic order. Many those who are vulnerable are not necessarily suffering from thirst, they are rather living next to polluted water sources. Mr. Arrojo Agudo also argues that there are currently three factors that further aggravates the global water scarcity. Firstly, the commodification and financialization of water, threats those who are the most vulnerable as customers. Secondly, climate change caused more floods and droughts and lastly the Covid-19 pandemic has deepened inequalities and poverty. He draws the conclusion of three key objectives in his work as Special rapporteur. It is to promote democratic governance of water and sanitation, make peace with our rivers, guaranteeing the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation and promote water as the key to collaboration and peace.

Mr. Arrojo Agudo elaborates on the partnership of organizations as the way forward. He has organized international bilateral meetings since he started his mandate. This has been valuable, as it can open perspective and solutions.

Furthermore, Mr. Arrojo Agudo's next report will be on the themes of indigenous people and improvised rural populations. The pandemic has limited official visits to areas to areas of study but hopes to visit the MENA region and Latin America soon.

Mr. Arrojo Agudo's ends his report with thanking the Council and stating his commitment to his mandate.

Germany experienced flooding in July this year which demonstrated that water is a precious resource but one of nature's most destructive forces. Weather extremes exacerbated by climate change affects us all. We need to ensure human rights-based approach to respond to this crisis. Democratic water and sanitation governance is key for the sustainability of our aquatic ecosystems.

Egypt on behalf of Group of Arab States, states the need to prioritize humans that are suffering from water scarcity and that the MENA region is the most affected region. This situation will worsen due to climate change. They want to remind the need to respect the usage of cross border water sources and not to contaminate it.

European Union states that the pandemic has shown that safe water and sanitation services is essential for public health. This must be a global priority. Partnership with stakeholders is key to act against climate change and the pandemic.

France is fully committed to the human rights of water and sanitation. Inequalities deepen between men and women due to lacking water supply and sanitation. France's bilateral development aid will reach 1.3 billion to address this matter.

Switzerland states that there is nothing more important than water for life on earth. Water scarcity jeopardies human rights, peace and security. Water is often a source for conflict, but it can become a source for peace. Switzerland urges all countries for cooperation.

State of Palestine has suffered from water and sanitation problems since the Israeli occupation started in 1948. Israel has total control over natural water resources. Gaza also lacks clean and safe water. The State of Palestine welcomes the Special Rapporteur to the Occupied State of Palestine to pay attention for the context of conflict situations.

Sovereign Order of Malta agrees with the Special Rapporteur's three key objectives and that we need to explore effective ways to involve all stakeholders in an area affected by water stress. They are committed to the realization of the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation around the world.

Indonesia states that clean water and sanitation is a human basic need, and that Indonesia is a supporter for the sustainability of water. Indonesia agrees that collaboration is key in order to improve the access to clean water. Indonesia has also implemented different programs to provide clean water and sanitation. The statement is interrupted by madame President as time is up.

Armenia welcomes the report from the Special Rapporteur. Armenia shares the view of the restoration of aquatic ecosystems and democratic water governance is fundamental. They also appreciate the insights on ethical categorization of water management. Armenia exemplifies the crisis with mentioning the people of Nagorno-Karabakh witnessing war and water shortage.

Sierra Leone was not present.

Mexico agrees with the Special Rapporteur. Mexico agrees that good practice of a democratic government is necessarily to solve the global water crisis. Mexico welcomes technical assistance from the international community.

United Nation' s Children's Fund agrees that the global water crisis is a growing concern.

Rising inequality pushing more vulnerable people into poverty and children more at risk.

The United Nations Children's Fund calls on member state to realize the right for every child's right to clean water and sanitation

Slovenia shares the view of unsustainable manage of water and climate change is extravagating the global water crisis. Slovenia supports the proclamation of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. They acknowledge that water is a public good that is essential to everyone.

Egypt states that Egypt is a water scarce country and agrees that water is a public good. Egypt strongly agrees new sustainable paradigm of water needs to be implemented.

Spain welcomes the Special Rapporteur and states that progress has been made but new challenges has arisen due to the pandemic. Clean water is essential for the resilience against diseases. Democratic water governance needs to include a necessary gender perspective.

Senegal believes that water is a crucial human right. Senegal encourages countries to share water basins. Senegal will increase their funds for clean water programs. Water must not be a source of conflict.

Israel states that water scarcity and access to water is a serious matter. Due to the pandemic, the ability to fight it has been limited due to water scarcity. Israel is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals and that the most advanced technologically countries need to protect water. Israel has taught water technologies around the world.

Costa Rica welcomes the Special Rapporteur and the emphasis of global inter-dependence. They agree with the holistic approach of the plan of water. Costa Rica also shares the concern of how Covid-19 has impacted water access.

Bangladesh concurs with the Special Rapporteur and that Covid-19 and climate change might intensify the water crisis. Bangladesh is making effort to ensure its whole population's access to clean water.

Iraq welcomes the efforts done by the Special Rapporteur and that there are existing gaps for the protection on water. Iraq believes that viewing water as an economic good is concerning and should not be regarded as a commodity. Iraq states that there must be no conflicts over water.

Togo recognizes the progress in moving towards to universal access to water supply but also believes that countries need to step up their efforts. They agree that there needs to be democratic water governance. Togo is working to ensure clean water access and guaranteeing its affordability.

South Africa promotes democratic water governance and recognizes water as a public good. They have made 6000 liters a month of water for every South African free. The human right to water is indefensible

Venezuela (The Bolivarian republic of) wishes to express support for the Special Rapporteur's mandate. Venezuela is fully committed to eco-socialism and the world needs to address predatory capitalism on water.

Angola states that they have difficulties to ensure clean water access in their communities. The current covid-19 has extravagated economic and social inequalities in Angola.

Holy See takes note of the report on the awareness of the gravity of the global water crisis and that it is aggravated by the financialization of water, climate change and Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has underscored how interconnected the world is. It is our shared responsibility to ensure everyone clean water.

Kenya states that the global water crisis has improvised people especially the most vulnerable. The water crisis has threatened peace and security. Kenya is committed to adequate provision of water and sanitation and has implemented legislations and policies. Access to safe water and basic sanitation is more critical than ever before as diseases and the pandemic makes it more difficult to people to enjoy their full human right. The statement is interrupted by madame President as time is up.

Mr. Arrojo Agudo, Special Rapporteur answering questions and is happy to see so many countries recognize the humanitarian approach of solving the global water crisis. He highlights the importance of realizing the close relationship of social and environmental questions.

We must change our mentality and integrate in respect to human right and environmental issues. International cooperation can contribute to this change. Mr. Arrojo Agudo also highlights that that the most cost-effective solution to the global water crisis is to recognize every human's right to a healthy environment. He also highlights that we need to prioritize sanitation, otherwise there is no clean water.

Russian Federation agrees that clean water needs to be accessible. Russia regret that the Special Rapporteur ignored the water blockade on Crimea.

Morocco supports this approach of the Special Rapporteur. On a domestic front, Morocco has responded with a national water plan. Innovative strategies such as desalination of water is key to solve the global water problem.

India takes note of the Special Rapporteur and states it is a challenging objective to guide us all. India highlights that the situation is of is of critical importance. The Indian Government recognizes the importance of clean water and basic sanitation and to leave no one behind.

Saudi Arabia believes that water is an essential public good. Saudi Arabia has created a system to manage water and ensure safe drinking water to all citizens. They have invested in projects in other countries. Saudi Arabia promotes the human rights in the area of access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Peru is aware start of the Special Rapporteur starts his mandate during the pandemic and reflects his visions and his concerns. Peru eagerly awaits the next report of indigenous people and safe water. Peru recognizes the right for clean drinking water and sustainable management of water.

Malaysia welcomes the Special Rapporteur's plan and Malaysia is committed to continue enhance capacity of water treatment plants in rural areas. Malaysia asks how developing countries can ensure clean water when they are experiencing rapid urbanization and a growing population.

Nepal agrees that poverty and inequality together with climate change and the pandemic has worsened the situation. Nepal is committed to ensure 1 drinking tap in every Nepalese household by 2025. Nepal is a vulnerable country for climate change. Nepal is committed to achieve national and global goals and this is also crucial for international community.

Namibia thanks the Special Rapporteur and states that their country is experiencing high expiration rate. Namibia is committed to fulfill Goal 6 through targeted measures.

China points out that 8% of the world's wastewater is not treated and the international community needs to focus on this. China exemplifies with Fukushima emitting untreated wastewater and calls upon Japan to correct this. China also states that the US prohibits the import of Japanese but doesn't urge Japan to take care of the wastewater.

El Salvador realize that the Covid-19 underscored the importance of clean water and sanitation as a public good to fight the pandemic efficiently. El Salvador delayed the dates to pay water bills during the pandemic and has developed projects to increase protection of the environment. They have reiterated the commitment to fight these challenges. El Salvador states that it counts on UN support in this crucial task.

Portugal aligns with the statements from the EU. They state that Goal 6 is central for policies and strategies. Portugal also states that we need to bridge infrastructure gaps in the world and assist countries in need.

Bolivia states that this matter is of importance and shares deep concern about the worldwide water crisis. Bolivia believes that water cannot be treated as a good and the capitalistic system does that. Bolivia calls on all countries to contribute and cooperate.

Libya underscores developing countries needs institutional capabilities in this matter and the world needs to strengthen a technical support mechanism. Libya also states that it has ratified the Paris Agreement recently and has made efforts to combat the global water crisis.

Mauritania commends the Special Rapporteur on the quality of the report and these challenges are particularly acute in Arabic states as desert states are more prone to climatic changes.

Mauritania calls upon the Council consider the effect of water scarcity in desert areas and find proper solutions.

Islamic Republic of Iran recognizes the right to clean and safe water basic human right. Iran concurs with the Special Rapporteur that the improvised are even more vulnerable. Iran urges development countries should share water management technologies and that sanctions has negative effects in this matter.

Pakistan agrees that water is a common good and that clean water is especially important for developing countries. Pakistan request the Special Rapporteur to share innovative means for international cooperation.

Syrian Arab Republic states that the report has emphasized the linkage between water and life. They want the Council to consider the use of water as a weapon to be emphasized. Syria states that Turkey has restricted water to Syria and calls upon the Special Rapporteur to consider this.

Sudan commends the analysis of this report and agrees that increased cooperation and information sharing is necessary. By allowing sustainable access to water, it reduces grounds for conflict.

Gabon states that the global water crisis is a multifactual crisis. Water is a public good and restricted water access prevents full access to human rights.

Vanuatu underlines that the climate change is contributing to this crisis. Vanuatu states that we need to ensure all people have safe access to drinking water.

Hungary agrees that climate change and the pandemic has deepened this crisis. It is important to realize the importance of this matter.

Georgia fully agrees that water is a public good and is committed to the work of the mandate. Georgia has subsidized water bills during the pandemic and improvement of its water services.

Afghanistan states that less than half of population has access to clean water and the overall situation has been worse since the Taliban took over the country. Afghanistan calls the international community to stand aside the Afghan people as a grave humanitarian crisis is unfolding in the country.

Algeria agrees that the world water crisis results from conflicts, Covid-19 and climate change. Water must not be a factor of tension rather a factor of peace.

Benin fully subscribes to the idea of water being a public good and democratic governance of this fundamental resource. A record amount of money has been spent on ensuring safe water.

Transformation of the infrastructural sector and sound management of providing clean water is crucial.

Azerbaijan sound did not work.

Mali fully supports the work of the Special Rapporteur. Mali highlights that the world's water crisis has affected many people. Mali has many development obstacles regarding the climate, security and finances.

Vietnam has put great emphasis on the matter and ensuring adequate sanitation. Vietnam has implemented a of number of priority program of the supply of safe water and rural clear water supply. Vietnam has been affected by climate change and it is a deepening global challenge.

Botswana shares some similarities of views of the report. Botswana states it is also important to realize the role of different stakeholders on water and sanitation. Botswana continues to improve and is looking forward to future reports and hopefully they will include practices for countries to emulate.

Panama states that human rights of indigenous people and people in poverty should be prioritized. The views of socio-environmental impacts are welcomed. The global water crisis is worsened by financialization of water, the pandemic and climate change.

Burkina Faso states that because of drought and changing rain regimes it increases the risk of internal displacement. The effective implementation of democratic governance is important and to no one behind. Burkina Faso wishes all success to the mandate.

Cote D'Ivoire notes with concern of the financialization of water, the pandemic and climate change. Cote D'Ivoire is seeking to promote democratic water governance. They welcome African states to cooperate and recalls the adaptation of the African water vision.

Malawi acknowledges the Special Rapporteurs mandate but wants to clarify the implementations of democratic water governance and sanitation services.

Tunisia welcomes the participatory approach with consultation held with stakeholders. In the context in the current of water shortages and climate change it is important to recognize the management and distribution of water. Tunisia states that it is also important to raise awareness of international cooperation.

Cameroon agrees that clean water and sanitation is a priority and has implemented rehabilitation programs for wastewater. They are setting up supply lines instead of human driven pumps.

Bulgaria aligns with the statements from the EU. Covid-19 demonstrated the importance of water in combating the pandemic. Democratic governance is a key element to realize the human right of water.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees emphasizes the role of partnership and resonates with the key objectives. They promote cooperation to promote peace. UNHCR takes a holistic approach to understand the role of water in refugee's context and is strongly committed to cooperate to continue to advance these rights.

Timor-Leste states that clean water is essential to life, but many people are still lacking it. Challenges lay ahead and the quantity and quality of water needs to improve. Timor-Leste urges international cooperation with the Paris Agreement as it is essential to improve the climate.

Lesotho confirms the fact that clean water is a basic human right. It must be of importance of all governments to ensure access to clean water and sanitation.

Maldives states that for small island countries, they depend on rainfall as their water source which is challenging during dry seasons. Maldives highlights that we live on a water planet, but many people do not have access to clean water.

Marshall Islands do not have any rivers or steams, their only source of fresh water is rainfall. Climate change alters prediction of forecasts and changing weather has disastrous effects. State of emergency was announced this year because of continued droughts. It is important to act against climate change as it is at the core of a healthy and sustainable planet.

Tanzania states that this is a universal concern. The Tanzanian government has improved rural water supply and access to water. They highlight that it is important to support other countries.

Haiti is absent.

Cambodia is committed to the work of the mandate. During the pandemic, clean water and sanitation has been a top priority. Cambodia wants to ensure every community has safe water and sanitation.

Azerbaijan had technical difficulties earlier. Azerbaijan is facing water challenges due to pollution which was caused by occupation. The Kura River can be used as a fresh water source, but it has been contaminated from industrial waste from Armenia. Azerbaijan urges Armenia and the international community to act and clean the river.

Haiti welcomes the report and believes that access to water is a human right. Environmental rights and human rights are closely related. Haiti states that we must change our policies and our way of life to combat this crisis and protect those who are most vulnerable. Haiti also emphasizes to focus on scientific factors to prevent bias.

Mr. Arrojo Agudo, the Special Rapporteur's concludes with touching on topics many countries have raised. He highlights that many people are living near polluted waters on which they depend on and thus it is essential to make peace with our rivers and restore their sustainability. Regarding technology, Mr. Arrojo Agudo welcomes the ideas but assures that the solutions are already in our environment, which is more cost-effective and for poorer countries the only option. He touches upon that we need to build strategies to make water a public good and not a commodity. Water is an argument for peace and that we cannot accept shortages of water and not for human rights.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace