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UN Expert to study Japan’s key role as biggest international donor to water and sanitation projects

TOKYO / GENEVA (16 July 2010) – UN independent expert Catarina de Albuquerque will visit Japan from 20-28 July 2010 to collect first hand information and talk with the authorities about the steps taken to ensure that the rights to safe drinking water and sanitation are guaranteed in its territory, as well as the extent to which these rights are promoted through official development aid.

“Japan is the biggest donor in the water and sanitation sectors and its actions have a crucial role for promoting enjoyment of the rights to water and sanitation worldwide,” said the Independent Expert designated by the UN Human Rights Council to examine the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation.

“This mission will particularly consider the situation of the most vulnerable groups with a special emphasis on the human rights principles of equality, non-discrimination, participation and accountability,” Ms. de Albuquerque said. During her first visit to Japan, she will also focus on issues such as sanitation in remote areas of the country and the challenges to maintenance and improvement of infrastructure.

As human rights, all people, without discrimination, must have access to safe drinking water and sanitation, which is affordable, acceptable, available and safe. States must continually take steps to ensure that access to these fundamental rights is guaranteed.

Ms. de Albuquerque will meet with Government officials, water and wastewater operators, and representatives from civil society and academia. Besides official Government meetings in the capital, Tokyo, she will also visit Kyoto and Osaka. Her findings and recommendations will be presented in a report to the Human Rights Council.

A press conference will be held at the United Nations Information Center in Tokyo, on 28 July at 15:00.

Catarina de Albuquerque is a Portuguese lawyer currently working as a senior legal adviser at the Office for Documentation and Comparative Law (an independent institution under the Portuguese Prosecutor General’s Office) in the area of human rights. She holds a DES in international relations with a specialization in international law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. She was appointed as Independent Expert in September 2008 and took up her functions in November 2008.

OHCHR Country Page – Japan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/JPIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Lucinda O’Hanlon, Tel.: +41 79 752 0481 / e-mail: lohanlon@ohchr.org or write to iewater@ohchr.org; or Mr. Takashi Okano, United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), Tel: +81 3 5467 4451, Fax: +81 3 5467 4455 / email: takashi.okano@unic.org.