Despite the United Nations General Assembly recognizing the human right to water and sanitation in July 2010, these rights have been omitted in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework document. The SDGs are highly significant because they will frame the UN's development agenda for the next 15 years.
An Oral Statement delivered yesterday at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council on business and human rights says, "The Mining Working Group at the UN, the Blue Planet Project, the Sisters of Mercy, and Franciscans International welcome this important clustered dialogue on the human rights impact of business activities and the right to health. Our members and partners are working at a critical intersection of these mandates with women, indigenous peoples, and peasant communities in the context of extractive industries and territorial conflicts."
The statement highlights, "The SDG intergovernmental process has removed the recognition of the contested right to water in the current Zero Draft to be debated next week. The draft goals and targets fail to establish a hierarchy of water uses to prioritize human and ecosystem well-being and there is a lack of guarantees for participation, non-discrimination, and accountability."
It concludes, "We respectfully request the Human Rights Council and Special Procedures to actively engage in the post-2015 process and to give special attention to the contested and critical human right to water and sanitation, for present and future generations."
It is hoped that the Human Rights Council will engage in this process given it passed Resolution A/HR/18/L.1 in September 2011 which affirmed the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation.
On May 7, Blue Planet Project campaigner Meera Karunananthan addressed an Informal Meeting of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations in New York. While at the United Nations, Karunananthan met with representatives of Sweden, Hungary, Ireland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Bolivia, Argentina, Montenegro, Romania, El Salvador, Brazil, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy among other countries. Unfortunately, as noted in the oral statement delivered yesterday, the zero draft document still does not contain any reference to the human right to water and sanitation.
Karunananthan will be back at the United Nations for the Twelfth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals taking place June 16-20 to strongly advocate that those rights be clearly reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Open Working Group is scheduled to deliver their final report before the September 2014 session of the General Assembly. The new Sustainable Development Goals are expected to be adopted at a September 2015 summit of world leaders in New York.