Development Cooperation


First report on development cooperation


Pursuant to Human Rights Council Resolution 27/7 of 2014 and 33/10 of 2016, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, Mr. Léo Heller, was mandated to work on identifying challenges and obstacles to the full realization of the rights, as well as protection gaps, good practices and enabling factors. He was also asked to monitor the way in which the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is being realized throughout the world.

In 2016, the Special Rapporteur presented a report (A/71/302) on the subject of development cooperation and the human rights to water and sanitation to the United Nations General Assembly, at its 71st session. The first report provided a preliminary analysis of the issue, addressing funders’ human rights approaches, the evolution of development cooperation in the sector and trends in funding patterns.

As part of the consultation process, the Special Rapporteur invited States, intergovernmental organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations, national human rights institutions, United Nations agencies and entities, academia and all other interested stakeholders to contribute their views and perspectives on this subject in writing through a questionnaire. This questionnaire and the responses received from these stakeholders can be consulted here.

Second report on development cooperation

On 23 October 2017, the Special Rapporteur will present his second report on the human rights to water and sanitation in development cooperation (A/72/127) to the 72nd session of the General Assembly.

On the basis of the theoretical framework developed in the first report, in the second report, the Special Rapporteur examined how funders contribute to the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation through an empirical analysis of a sample of six case studies. These studies involve six funders: France and Japan (State funders), the European Union (a regional integration organization), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (international financial institutions) and UNICEF (a United Nations agency). This sample considered the types and regional balance of funders and their activities, as well as the relevance of funders as in the water and sanitation sector through development cooperation.

Funder briefs

The extent of the research is not fully reflected in the report due to its maximum permitted length. Thus, in the interest of providing further elements of the results of those case studies, the Special Rapporteur prepared a brief on each of the funders. Each brief was reviewed by the respective funder and incorporates their comments when appropriate.

The funder briefs reflect the analytical framework that was developed for data collection and analysis in the research, namely the “human rights development cycle”, illustrated below.

Contents of the funder briefs:

  • Main policies and legal frameworks with direct relevance to the funder’s action in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector and commitments to human rights are identified. When existing, related targets or outcome indicators are also outlined. Such policies and frameworks are analyzed carefully according to the normative content of the human rights to water and sanitation and human rights principles in order to identify whether policy standards reflect those elements.
  • In light of the known unbalances and gaps in many countries’ WASH sectors, disaggregated data on funding for WASH projects is detailed with a view to identifying how funds are attributed to water supply vs. sanitation projects or basic vs. large systems.
  • The level of each funder’s disbursements to the WASH sector are calculated over the past years (generally between 2011 and 2015) and are compared against average levels of disbursements to WASH from all State and multilateral funders.
  • The geographical destination of funding for WASH is also outlined and compared with global average disbursement patterns. Furthermore, in an attempt to gauge funders’ priority for countries most in need of international funding for WASH, the income status of countries receiving disbursements from the funder is presented.
  • Finally, diverse operational tools used throughout the funders’ activities in the WASH sector are identified, in addition to key partnerships and projects that supplement the funder’s standalone actions.

France | Japan World Bank | Inter-American Development Bank | European Union | UNICEF

Expert consultation

On 24 and 25 May 2017, the Special Rapporteur convened an expert consultation on the human rights to water and sanitation in development cooperation.