Progressive realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation

31-03-2020
UN Water

The Special Rapporteur’s thematic report to the 45th session of the Human Rights Council, to be presented in September 2020, will focus on the progressive realisation of the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

In the context of the human rights to water and sanitation, the obligation of progressive realisation reflects the need of States to move beyond the minimum levels of water and sanitation service provision, specified as necessary immediately in accordance with States’ minimum core obligations. In realising the rights to water and sanitation, States are also required to utilise the maximum of their available resources.

In this regard, several questions arise:

  • How can the concepts of ‘progressive realisation’, ‘maximum available resources’ and ‘minimum core obligations’ be translated in the context of the human rights to water and sanitation?
  • What elements and specificities of the human rights to water and sanitation should be considered in the application of the three concepts?
  • To which extent do human rights monitoring bodies have been assessing the implementation of States’ obligations adequately applying the three concepts mentioned above? How can those bodies further address those concepts?
  • How can compliance with the obligation of progressive realisation be assessed? How to translate the standard of reasonableness (and related standards such as adequacy, appropriateness, and proportionality) in the water and sanitation sector?

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to water and sanitation, Léo Heller, will explore these questions in his report to the 45th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2020 on the progressive realisation of the human rights to water and sanitation.