Human right to WASH ‘glaring omission’ in OWG ‘zero draft’
By Jamillah Mwanjisi
The U.N. Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals is holding this week its 12th and penultimate meeting in New York. Thirty representatives from U.N. member states are discussing amendments to the so-called “zero draft” document, which they will submit to the 68th U.N. General Assembly in September as a formal SDG proposal document.
But as many water and sanitation NGOs — including the 270-member End Water Poverty campaign coalition and a group of some 300 NGOs that have submitted a cosigned letter — believe, and as U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque has noted, there remains a glaring omission in the document: the human right to water and sanitation. In its current guise, the document’s preamble fails to mention the human right to water and sanitation alongside other named rights. And while prior meetings suggested human rights would be “mainstreamed” into the SDGs themselves, it remains unclear what this means when the targets and indicators do not fully reflect the standards of the human right to water and sanitation, or the principles of human rights generally.