United Nations resolutions on the human rights to water and sanitation

UN resolutions reflect countries’ support for and understanding of the human rights to water and sanitation at the international level. This map shows all 15 UN resolutions adopted by countries at the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council since 2010. Use it to find out which resolutions your country supported!

How to use the map​

You have two options to use this map:

Information by country: Click on a country in the map or in the drop down menu to the left to see which of the 15 resolutions this country supported.

Access a resolution: Click on a resolution in the table on the right to read the respective resolution.

Glossary of terms

A co-sponsor is a country that joins the original sponsors of a resolution in bringing it forward for adoption. This is the strongest possible support a UN member state can express for a resolution. When a resolution is adopted by consensus, co-sponsoring is also the only way a country can explicitly support a resolution. Of the 15 resolutions on the human rights to water and sanitation, 11 were adopted by consensus and only 4 were voted on.
Original sponsors provide the first draft of a resolution and lead the negotiations with other countries, making changes to the text based on the negotiations. In the case of the human rights to water and sanitation, the original sponsors are Germany and Spain. In the map, they are displayed as co-sponsors.

11 out of 15 resolutions on the human rights to water and sanitation were adopted by consensus. This means that no member state of the UN General Assembly or Human Rights Council objected to the text. When a resolution is adopted by consensus, co-sponsoring is the only way a country can explicitly support it.

4 out of the 15 resolutions were voted on. In these cases, a member state of the UN General Assembly or Human Rights Council demanded a change to the text that did not reach consensus in negotiations and put this to a vote. None of these votes succeeded with changing the text of the respective resolution. The changes sought also did not call into question the recognition or definition of the human rights to water and sanitation. In case of a vote, countries can also co-sponsor the respective resolution.

GA stands for General Assembly. The UN General Assembly is the main policy making organ of the UN. All 193 UN Member States have a seat in the GA and each country has equal voting rights. The General Assembly functions a bit like a national parliament.

When the General Assembly adopts a resolution by consensus, it means that no UN Member State objects to it. Resolutions adopted by the GA begin with GA, followed by the session in which they were adopted and the number of the resolution. For example, GA 76/153 was adopted by the GA during its 76th session and it has the number 153 of all resolutions adopted during that session.

HRC stands for Human Rights Council. In the UN system, the HRC is responsible for strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights worldwide. 47 UN Member States sit in the HRC. They are elected by the UN General Assembly for three years.

Most advancements in the normative development of the human rights to water and sanitation are made in the Human Rights Council as the expert body of the UN. All UN Member States can co-sponsor resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council, but only the 47 Council members can demand a vote.

Resolutions coloured red were voted on at the request of a country. None of these votes called into question the recognition or definition of the human rights to water and sanitation. See further explanation in the glossary above.

Resolutions

How to use resolutions

Resolutions reflect the support and commitment of countries for the human rights to water and sanitation at the international level. If your country has co-sponsored or voted yes on a resolution on the human rights to water and sanitation, you could:

– Remind the government of this commitment
– Read the respective resolution(s) and the calls to action contained in them to demand more action from the government.

Note that at the UN level, countries are ‘one entity’. You can therefore refer to resolutions in advocacy with any government institution.

What are resolutions

A UN resolution is a formal text adopted by a UN body that consists of UN Member States. This means that all resolutions are drafted and adopted by countries.

While resolutions are not legally binding, they are an important expression of countries’ positions and commitments.

Every year, countries negotiate a resolution on the human rights to water and sanitation at the UN Human Rights Council or General Assembly.

Resolution GA 76/153 summarised

The most recent resolution on the human rights to water and sanitation was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2021. This 4-page summary highlights in more detail how you can use this and other resolutions and summarises the most important topics contained in it. It was provided by WASH United, a Make Rights Real partner.