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Right to Sanitation gathers momentum

This week I have the opportunity to travel to Geneva for the presentation of the sanitation report complied by Caterina de Albuquerque, the Independent Expert on human rights obligations related to water and sanitation to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Some of you, who follow FAN activities on Twitter ( may already be aware of some of the events of the week.

Briefly, there were a few side meetings including “SH*T: A Matter of Human Rights and Human Dignity,” organized by the Independent Expert, Bread for the World, and UNESCO as well as, “The right to sanitation and its impact for children’s health,” organized by World Vision International.

In addition I was able to attend one of the Open Informal Consultative Process Sessions (‘Open Informals’), which is the process through which a resolution (and/or other issues) on the right to sanitation (or other topics) is negotiated by country delegates and other interested parties.

This process is being chaired by Germany and Spain, whom the Independent Expert thanked in her presentation ‘for their unfailing support as co-sponsors of [her] mandate’ on water and sanitation. At the ‘Open Informals,’ amidst the discussion there was a request by the Canadian and U.S. delegates to remove language that ‘urges development partners … to support a human rights approach.

’ FAN weighed in on the record in support of the language as well as a strong commitment to the rights based approach. Afterwards, I was able to have a discussion with several of the country representatives about why this is important and the difference between the recognition of a human right and using a rights based approach. It was very interesting!

All of the events took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. The report is available online in several languages. Although the report is not long, it covers several aspects of the issue and may help you strengthen your arguments for sanitation as a distinct right in your lobbying and advocacy activity. (It has helped me!)

The Independent Expert has also prepared a short leaflet on the the Frequently Asked Questions related to the right to sanitation which is also a good resource. These and other materials are available at

If you would like to receive additional information about these events please do send an email to and we will let you know when the photos and documents from the events are ready. Do also check the FAN website for the latest news on this issue.

You can view webcast of the Human Rights Council at

Warm regards,

Kolleen Bouchane Advocacy Action and Learning Officer Freshwater Action Network 47-49 Durham St. SE11 5JD London UK T +44 (0) 20 7793 2230 F +44 (0) 20 7793 4545

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