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Water and Sanitation

Last updated: 24.09.2013 // United Nations Human Rights Council, 24th session. Statement by Norway.Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

President,

We would like to thank the Special Rapporteur for a comprehensive report.

Norway has for a number of years been an active international partner in the promotion of the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, which is in line with Norway’s focus in international development policy on reducing inequalities and improving access to basic services for marginalized groups.

The world contains sufficient, clean freshwater for everyone’s basic personal and domestic needs. However, water is not equally distributed, leading to insufficient access.

Lack of distribution networks, working systems to extract groundwater or harvest rainwater and exclusion from these services or facilities, limit the extent of people’s access to sufficient drinking water. Hence, the report of the SR is of great importance. Its focus on sustainable, long-term realization of the rights to water and sanitation is imperative in order to ensure availability and accessibility to water and sanitation for present and future generations.

Furthermore, the report’s focus on the obligation of States to progressively realize the rights to water and sanitation through the use of maximum available resources is also important. From a human rights perspective, it is crucial to focus on how to raise revenues.

The Special Rapporteur mentions water unaffordability as a risk that can lead people to seek alternative and potentially unsafe water sources. We are worried that also public water and sanitation infrastructures sometimes distribute unsafe water.

Challenges are given to the donor community, as well. The Special Rapporteur reminds us of the importance of strengthening national capacity. Key words are ownership, alignment, harmonization and coordination, in line with the Paris Declaration. In short: Donors should work together, under the leadership of national authorities and make sure they have the capacity and competence to take on this leadership.

Finally, President we have two brief questions:

1) Could we ask to what extent the current international focus on water infrastructure, rather than water quality, may lead to underreporting of unsafe water sources?

2) The human rights principle of non-discrimination is at the core of a human rights approach. Precisely, this is why we would have liked to see a brief analysis on how a human rights framework could have been beneficial to women and girls, those that perhaps, literally, carry the heaviest burdens because of the lack of access to safe drinking water.

I thank you, Mr. President


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