HRC 42: Clustered Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Statement by the Federation of Women and Family Planning

9 September 2019

Thank you, Mr. President. The Federation makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.

We welcome the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation in spheres of life beyond the household with an emphasis on public spaces.

We welcome the Rapporteur’s attention to public spaces and making the linkages to his previous report on accountability. However, we are disappointed that the report does not have specific recommendations on accountability, in spite of it rightly denouncing different barriers such as the fragmentation of responsibility through privatization. The accountability analysis also misses the role of transnational corporations.

Multinational corporations utilize their power to influence States and evade regulation, making it harder to hold them accountable. In this sense, it is important to highlight how corporations are held to a different standard in Global North countries to comply with adequate regulations and standards on water and sanitation in public spaces, but they are willing to use their power to build and run subpar facilities and services in the Global South. It is time to enact new ways at the international level to effectively hold multinational corporations accountable for their power.

The report clearly addresses issues of availability and accessibility for marginalized groups and recognizes the consequences for women, persons with disabilities and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons. The analysis, however, did not show the links between the patriarchal, ableist, racist, gender-normative classist and capitalist systems of oppression that stigmatize and put lives and health at risk. These systems place barriers not only to water and sanitation in public spaces, but to public spaces in general. Recognizing the relational and cultural aspects of places and the ways they are shaped by power is essential for accountability. Our access to public space has a direct impact on our ability to make informed and autonomous decisions in matters regarding our own bodies, lives and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Thank you.