H.E. Ban Ki-moon
Secretary-General of the United Nations
C.C.: H.E. John W. Ashe, President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly;
ASG Amina J. Mohammed, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Post-2015 Development Planning;
Mr. Macharia Kamau, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kenya to the United Nations, Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals;
Mr. Csaba Kőrösi, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Hungary to the United Nations, Co-Chair of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals; Ms. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
7 July 2014
Dear Mr. Secretary-General,
At this pivotal moment preceding the 13th and final session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals, we are compelled to write to respectfully inform you of our serious concern regarding the lack of explicit reference to the international human rights framework in the current text for negotiation.
We are particularly dismayed that the 30 June iteration of the OWG Zero Draft includes no mention of the human right to water and sanitation. This is worrisome given the global importance and the hard-fought UN recognition and elaboration of this right. We call for the immediate inclusion of a target under proposed goal 6 that explicitly mentions the need to guarantee the human right to water and sanitation. This echoes the previous letter by more than 300 global civil society organizations for the urgent need to protect and promote the human right to water and sanitation in the SDGs. This letter remains active on the World We Want 2015 website and can be accessed here: http://www.worldwewant2015.org/node/444003
This call is in line with the consistent and united advocacy of civil society, throughout the OWG process and the broader post-2015 discussion, for a sustainable development agenda anchored in human rights norms and the international framework. In recent OWG meetings, some States including the co-chairs have been promoting the idea of “mainstreaming” human rights into the SDGs. As it currently stands, the chapeau pledges that the agenda will simply “be guided” by human rights principles – a weak commitment when what is required is an agenda that is rooted in human rights obligations. The current targets and indicators do not fully reflect the standards of human rights and are not explicitly linked to existing obligations.
The OWG approach to mainstreaming human rights has amounted to making them invisible. The call for human rights to be central to the new agenda cannot be satisfied by language that is left open to interpretation. In addition to the various Major Group interventions to this effect, this plea has been made to the Open Working Group by so many people and groups around the world in the global consultations. For human rights to truly be integrated throughout the agenda, the relevant norms and tie to the human rights framework must be explicitly acknowledged in name and structure. This is a key step to strengthen coherence, deliver results, and ensure impact at the national level – key priorities of UN efforts to mainstream human rights in all areas.
We encourage you, Excellency, in your role as leader of this international body founded on the promotion and defense of human rights, to insist on a human rights-based approach in the SDG process. In particular, we implore you to encourage that the Open Working Group report includes an explicit mention reference to the need to guarantee the human right to water and sanitation.
Please accept, Excellency, the assurance of our highest consideration.
How to sign
Just click here to sign this letter.
To read more about the SDGs and the human right to water
Marion Veber, " Le droit à l’eau et les futurs Objectifs pour le Développement Durable (les Sustainable Development Goals) ", RAMPEDRE, 3/07/2014.
Meera Karunanathan : “ Is the UN turning its back on the human right to water? ”, The Guardian , 19/06/2014.