An official website of the United States government

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation and the Special Rapporteur on Hazardo
September 11, 2013

U.S. Statement

Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation and the Special Rapporteur on Hazardous Substances and Wastes

UN Human Rights Council – 24th Session

September 11, 2013

Thank you, Mister President.

The United States notes the report by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation.  The United States recognizes the importance and challenges of meeting basic needs for water and sanitation to support human health, economic development, and peace and security, and we support the spirit animating the Special Rapporteur’s work.  We share the Special Rapporteur’s views on the importance of non-discriminatory access and of  monitoring and evaluating the quality and affordability of drinking water and sanitation.

While the United States agrees that safe water and sanitation are critically important issues, we do not agree with all of the analyses and conclusions in the Special Rapporteur’s report.  For example, we disagree that sustainability is a fundamental human rights principle.  We also take a different view from the Special Rapporteur on the justiciability of rights, particularly with respect to countries that are not a party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  In addition, the United States is concerned with the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations for how states should allocate their resources, particularly her proposals regarding tax policies.  Apart from our substantive concerns with these suggestions, we believe these types of recommendations exceed the scope of her mandate.

Despite these differences, we appreciate the Special Rapporteur’s work and look forward to continuing to cooperate with her.

The United States also notes the preliminary report Special Rapporteur Pallemaerts has completed on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and waste.  Although this is his first report, his mandate is not new.  The Special Rapporteur’s mandate is limited to the potential human rights implications of the improper management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes.  There are many expert instruments and entities working on various aspects of hazardous substances and wastes that do not relate to human rights.  The Special Rapporteur mentions many of these efforts in his report, and we appreciate his intention to avoid duplicating that other work.  During this final period of the mandate, we hope the Special Rapporteur will focus on collecting and synthesizing the human rights-related information that he and his predecessor have already obtained into a final report to the Council.  We look forward to receiving the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations.

Thank you, Mister President.