Development cooperation: reports

5 August 2016; 13 July 2017
The Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation
At the 71st and 72nd sessions of the GA

A/71/302 and A/72/127

Friendly version of the Special Rapporteur's report on development cooperation (English | Français | Español)


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.

First report on development cooperation

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.

Second report on development cooperation

On 23 October 2017, the Special Rapporteur presented 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 involved 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. Read the full briefs below.

Funder briefs

The Special Rapporteur prepared a summary brief on each of the funders involved in the second report. 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. Related targets or outcome indicators. Careful analysis of norms and principles to identify whether policy standards reflect those elements.
  • Disaggregated data on funding for WASH projects, 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, calculated over the past years (generally between 2011 and 2015) and compared against average disbursements to WASH from all State and multilateral funders.
  • The geographical destination of funding for WASH, and compared with global average disbursement patterns.
  • The income status of countries receiving disbursements from the funder, to gauge funders’ priority for countries most in need of international funding for WASH.

See the funder briefs in full: FranceJapanWorld BankIDBEuropean UnionUNICEF.

Inputs received

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.


As part of the primary 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.

Questionnaires on gender equality and on development cooperation were shared and input requested by 31 January 2016 (English | French | Spanish).

Member States

  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bolivia
  • Comores
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Nigeria
  • Tunisia

NGOs and Civil Society Organizations

  • AECID Latino America
  • Aquafed
  • Claudio Schuftan
  • Corporate Accountability International
  • Diverse civil society entities
  • FH Mughal
  • Human Rights Watch
  • Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti
  • Organisation Mauritanienne pour la Promotion de l’environnement et l’appui aux services de bases (OMPEASB)
  • Several Mexican civil society organizations