Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation


The Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is one of the thematic special procedures overseen by the United Nations Human Rights Council, and is responsible for examining issues related to the rights to water and sanitation and providing recommendations to governments, the UN, and other stakeholders. In particular, the Special Rapporteur advocates for a holistic understanding of access to water and sanitation, in the understanding that the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation requires that water and sanitation be available, accessible, safe, acceptable, and affordable for all without discrimination. Participation, empowerment, accountability, and transparency – particularly with respect to the most disadvantaged and marginalized – are also qualities that form a core part of the rights to water and sanitation.

The Special Rapporteur must pay particular attention to persons belonging to vulnerable and marginalized groups throughout the work of his or her mandate. Specifically, the Special Rapporteur must respect the principles of non-discrimination and gender equality.


The mandate of the Special Rapporteur lasts for a period of three years. The mandate is filled by one highly-qualified individual.

The UN Human Rights Council established the Special Rapporteurship in 2008 with Resolution 7/22. The Council extended the mandate in 2011 with Resolution 16/2 and again in 2013 with Resolution 24/18.

In fulfilling the mandate, the Special Rapporteur undertakes country visits, disseminates open letters regarding the realization of the right to water and sanitation, requests information from relevant stakeholders on specific topics, publishes guides and handbooks, and submits activity reports to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council.

Country Visits

One important function of the Special Rapporteur is to conduct country visits, which the mandate holder does on the basis of an invitation from the country concerned. Country visits provide the Special Rapporteur with several opportunities. First, they allow the Special Rapporteur to understand the situation of water and sanitation at the national level. Second, they help the Special Rapporteur identify best practices, which he or she can then incorporate into recommendations to States and other stakeholders. Lastly, they offer opportunities for the Special Rapporteur to make recommendations to governments on ways to improve access to water and sanitation.

The Special Rapporteur undertakes an average of three country visits per year, to States that have extended an invitation. View the list of previous country visits and the Special Rapporteur’s subsequent reports here.

More than 100 countries have extended standing invitations to country visits by all thematic special procedures. View the list of countries that have extended standing invitations here.

Receiving Information

The Special Rapporteur regularly requests input and information from governments, civil society, and other stakeholders to assist in identifying gaps, violations, or best practices related to the protection of the human right to water and sanitation. The Special Rapporteur utilizes questionnaires to collect this information, and publishes the submissions received with regard to each topic.

To see these questionnaires and submissions, click on the topics listed under the “Issues in focus” section of the Special Rapporteur’s webpage. To view the Special Rapporteur’s publications, see the “Publications” section of the page.

Reports to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council

The Special Rapporteur reports annually to the Human Rights Council and the UN General Assembly on all of its activities relating to its mandate. These reports are available on the Special Rapporteur’s Annual Reports webpage.


Contact the Special Rapporteur by email at: [email protected].