HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL 12th session
The right to water and sanitation
Thursday 17 September 2009
Statement by Norway,
Delivered by H.E. Ambassador Bente Angell-Hansen
Let me begin by thanking the mandate holders for their comprehensive reports. My comments pertains to access to water and sanitation.
Water is life, nothing less! The independent expert on human rights obligations related to safe drinking water and sanitation has taken on an important task and Norway welcomes her report. The report provides many convincing arguments for the importance of adequate sanitation including on how sanitation should be understood as an integral part of numerous established human rights.
As far as we can understand, the proposals for policies and development schemes would be supported by most professionals in the field. However: Several studies indicate that under certain circumstances, a higher degree of results are achieved when no, or limited, subsidies are provided. Consequently, the issue of subsidies should be treated more context specific and allow policies and methods to develop over time.
Norway is of the opinion that standards should be sufficiently precise to give rise to identifiable and practicable rights and obligations. The report in front of us is helpful in this respect, as it proposes specific obligations that states should meet.
The independent expert concludes that only looking at sanitation through the lens of other human rights does not do justice to the specific nature of sanitation and its importance for a dignified life. The independent expert recommends states to support legal and political developments at all levels to secure a broader recognition of sanitation as a distinct human right. Norway supports this approach.
Even though the responsibility for supply of water and sanitation rests with the individual state, donors share a responsibilty when promoting the relevant MDG and in the follow up of the action plan from the Johannesburg summit, also stressing that donors should increase efforts in harmonisation and alignment at country level.
Let me conclude by pointing to the fact that while the right to water is gender neutral, the division of labour with regard to household chores and related use of water are highly gender dependent. Women, assisted by girls, are as a rule the main producers of family food and care for the children, sick and elderly. It is essential that gender patterns of access, use and control of water is reflected in water policies and legislation.
Statement ID water HRC12th session.doc