USA Subject of UN Study

Two United Nations human rights experts visited the city of Detroit, Michigan, USA for two days in October to learn more about the impact of large-scale water disconnections on low-income, marginalized and vulnerable groups and their human rights to water and sanitation and to adequate housing. The Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, and the Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, met with individuals affected by water disconnections, with civil society organizations, as well as with local authorities, and visited neighborhoods in Detroit where water service has been disconnected.

“Issues of affordability, non-discrimination and access to justice for affected groups are vital,” the independent experts said. “A response by local and federal authorities to the water shut-offs which is aligned with international human rights standards is crucial and would serve as inspiration to other cities around the world that are faced with similar challenges.” This informal visit arranged by civil society will allow the experts to discuss follow-up to the recommendations made to the United States on the basis of official country visits in 2009 (housing) and 2011 (water and sanitation).