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Rio+20: “Now is time to work together to implement the human right to water and sanitation”

United Nations Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque welcomed explicit commitment to "progressively" implement human right to safe drinking water and sanitation made at Rio+20

29.06.2012 |UN Human Rights

GENEVA (28 June 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Catarina de Albuquerque welcomed the explicit commitment to "progressively" implement the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation made at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. However, she urged world governments not to use "progressive realization" as a pretext to shelve full implementation.

“‘Progressive realization of the right’ requires States to take concrete steps for its full realization to the maximum of available resources, including through international cooperation,” Ms. de Albuquerque said. “‘Progressive realization’ is not an excuse to postpone implementation, but rather calls for immediate steps, as well as for developing a roadmap to implement it.”

“The principles contained in the Rio+20 Outcome Document must now be the basis for future action and States must move forward to ensure access to water and sanitation in sufficient quantities to protect human health and dignity, particularly for the most marginalized,” she stressed,  welcoming the summit’s consistent message that reducing inequalities is imperative for sustainable development. “Human rights are an effective passport to achieve access to safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all and to put an end to inequalities.

“It is time for all of us to work together to realize ‘the future we want’ through developing adequate sustainable development and post-2015 development goals,” urged Ms. de Albuquerque.  

“A future with hope for those girls who still have to walk miles to fetch water every day, for the boys who drop out of school because of diarrhoea, for the children dying due to drinking unsafe water, and also for those children with disabilities who cannot access sanitation facilities with dignity,” she said. “They are all entitled to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

The Special Rapporteur is committed to working together with all States and stakeholders to develop sustainable development and post-2015 development goals for water and sanitation that ensure equality and non-discrimination as well as other human rights obligations. “The future we want is within reach – it is a matter of will, courage and vision by the world’s governments.”


Catarina de Albuquerque is the first UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. She was appointed by the Human Rights Council in 2008. Ms. de Albuquerque is a Professor at the Law Faculties of the Universities of Braga and Coimbra and the American University’s Washington College of Law and a Senior Legal Adviser at the Office for Documentation and Comparative Law, an independent institution under the Prosecutor General’s Office. Learn more, log on to:

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