Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation
Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
10 September 2018
Joint Statement by: International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD) and Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ)
Thank you, Mr. President,
We thank the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation for his report which focuses on forcibly displaced persons and also addresses emergency situations, challenges and obstacles, and building resilience. Too often, the human right to safe drinking water is forgotten during and after emergency situations, which then leads to sanitation-related diseases, malnutrition, and other ailments that raise the death toll and increases health risks among populations. In this regard, the human rights to water and sanitation can provide guidance to prevent such dangers.
While welcoming the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, we thank her for acknowledging the situation in Iraq in her opening statement. In Basra, recent demonstrations resulted from the deteriorating availability and quality of water due to the ongoing emergency situation in Iraq and also governmental corruption. This concern brings attention to the aftermath of the invasion, occupation, and military campaigns in Iraq, which destroyed water purifying systems and other infrastructure, and the situation has worsened by cutting flows of water from neighbouring countries. This has left a large proportion of the Iraqi population without access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
It is explicitly mentioned in the Special Rapporteur’s Report that “lack of clear allocation of responsibilities and lack of leadership by states are often identified as obstacle.” The lack of leadership within Iraq, often resulting from corruption, demonstrates the need to seriously address the issue of corruption in order to satisfy the human rights obligation to provide safe drinking water and sanitation in emergency situations.
To this end, EAFORD and Geneva International Centre for Justice call on this Council to devote efforts towards the human right to water in Iraq. We thank the Special Rapporteur for his work and strongly recommend and appreciate a focus on the situation in Iraq in his next mandate.