Human rights: For a life in dignity and free from poverty International Human Rights Day 2009

09.12.2009 - Press release

10 December marks Human Rights Day all around the world – commemorating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

The right to life and human dignity are the backbone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet even more than 60 years after its adoption, much remains to be done. Take water, for example: Every 20 seconds a child in the world dies because of a lack of hygiene, dirty water and contaminated food. Almost 900 million people have no access to clean drinking water and 2.5 billion people have no toilet. The German Government is therefore working to have the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation recognized internationally and, as a second step, to implement this right.

On the occasion of International Human Rights Day on 10 December, Federal Foreign Minister Dr Guido Westerwelle and Federal Development Minister Dirk Niebel are issuing the following statement:

“Too many children are still dying in the poorest regions of the world as a result of contaminated water.We are therefore working to have the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation established internationally. In so doing, we are making a long-term contribution to eradicating poverty. Foreign and development policy is also always human rights policy. Only where human rights are respected, can people liberate themselves from poverty and can development work in the long term. The right to water is a prime example. That is why the German Government is supporting the implementation of the right to water in our partner countries. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, 30 million people will gain access to drinking water and sanitation by 2015 as a result of our work.”

Together with Spain, Germany launched an initiative in 2006 for the global recognition of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation which to date has triggered the adoption of various resolutions in the United Nations Human Rights Council and the appointment of an independent expert, Catarina de Albuquerque. With its Development Policy Action Plan for Human Rights, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development has anchored the implementation of human rights firmly in development cooperation. The realization of the right to water (one of the priorities of German development policy) plays an important role here.

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