Geneva : In a bid to combat open defecation, the UN has adopted a landmark resolution recognising the human right to “sanitation” as a distinct human right along with the right to safe drinking water, a move hailed by experts.

   “The right to sanitation is an essential component of the right to an adequate standard of living, inextricably linked to the highest attainable standard of health, and integrally related to the human right to water,” said Waleed Sadi, Chair of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

  “The explicit recognition of the human right to sanitation and the human right to water reaffirms that sanitation has distinct features which warrant its own separate recognition and treatment from water in some respects,” he said in a press release.

  The UN General Assembly in New York adopted by consensus a resolution that recognises “the human right to sanitation entitles everyone, without discrimination, to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity”.

  “This is a significant step taken by all United Nations member states to address the right to sanitation on an equal footing with the right to water,” said Leo Heller, UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation.

  The experts said that governments tend to focus more on water rather than on-site sanitation like pit latrines and septic tanks still widely used with the result that individual households are responsible for managing the entire systems, including collection and disposal, without government support.

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