Human Rights Commissioner Strässer on two resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly
- date of issue
The Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, Christoph Strässer, issued the following statement today (18 December) on two resolutions adopted by the United Nations General Assembly:
Today the UN General Assembly, among other things, adopted by consensus two resolutions either sponsored or co‑sponsored by Germany. They are about strengthening the human rights to water and sanitation as well as the closer involvement of National Human Rights Institutions in the work of the UN.
I expressly welcome these resolutions because I am convinced that they will make an important contribution towards strengthening the international protection of human rights.
1. Water and sanitation
The 70th session of the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution co‑sponsored by Germany and Spain on the rights to water and sanitation. With this resolution, Germany and Spain have steadfastly continued the initiative which they launched together in New York two years ago. For the first time, it has been possible to anchor a definition of these key economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) in a General Assembly resolution. In this year’s resolution, the rights were semantically divided for the first time (right*s* to water and sanitation), in order to ensure that the right to sanitation in particular receives greater attention in future. Finally, the resolution establishes links to the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and clearly addresses the special risks to which women and girls are exposed if they have no clean water or they do not have safe access to sanitation.
2. National Human Rights Institutions
The 70th session of the General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution sponsored by Germany on National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). The resolution constitutions a jump in terms of quality from “whether” to “how” when it comes to the question of participation rights for National Human Rights Institutions in the UN system. National Human Rights Institutions – such as the German Institute for Human Rights – have a unique wealth of expertise on the human rights situation in their own countries. They were already able to get involved in the work of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. However, there was no sound legal basis for their participation in other procedures of importance to the protection of human rights.
The resolution sponsored by Germany provides for this and actively calls for National Human Rights Institutions to be included for the first time in UN procedures and processes and for their involvement in the UN system to be made possible. Furthermore, the resolution calls for reprisals against human rights institutions or persons who want to work with them to be investigated. It is now up to National Human Rights Institutions to demand greater involvement in the UN system on the basis of the new legal framework. As the example of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has shown, the international protection of human rights has benefited where National Human Rights Institutions already have wide-ranging participation rights.