The right to drinking water and sanitation is one of the Spanish priorities in human rights.
Spanish priorities
The promotion and defence of human rights constitutes one of the priorities of foreign policy and international cooperation to guarantee peace and security in the world.
This policy is implemented through five non-exclusive priority areas: the fight against the death penalty; non-discrimination for reasons of gender or sexual orientation; the rights of people with disabilities; the human right to drinking water and sanitation; and companies and human rights. Together with these, and acting across these areas, particular attention is paid to supporting defenders of human rights, for whom there is a temporary reception programme.

Death penalty
Hundreds of people are executed in the world every day through the application of the death penalty. Spain supports the abolition of this penalty because it is cruel, inhumane and degrading, because it does not have proven results in preventing crime, and because it involves irreparable effects in the case of judicial error, to which no legal system is immune.

Fight against gender-based discrimination
The fight for equality between men and women is one of the priorities of our foreign policy. Spain is a very active participant, both as a member of the European Union and of the United Nations system, in designing policies, creating instruments and setting up institutions to fight gender-based discrimination and in the defence of the rights of women and girls.

The principle of non-discrimination is at the origin of the fight for gender equality, the defence of rights and the empowerment of women, which are at the core of Spain’s human rights actions. The reduction in inequalities through the active participation of women at a social, political and economic level is another priority goal to help guarantee the eradication of all forms of violence against women.

Spain is promoting the application of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda in the firm conviction that the full participation of women as agents of peace at all stages of conflict is key to peacebuilding and fostering development.

At an institutional level, Spain decisively promoted the creation of UN Women and was the first donor to establish an Association Framework with the UN.


Fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identify
Based on the idea that sexual orientation and gender identity form part of the most intimate aspect of human beings, we promote the decriminalisation of consensual relations between adults at a global level.

In recent years, Spain has backed many actions to defend the rights of LGBTI people through various multilateral forums: support for the mandate of the new United Nations Independent Expert on the protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, adhesion to the Fundamental Principles of the Coalition for Equal Rights, under the United Nations LGBT Core Group, the application of the European Union Guidelines on the rights of LGBTI persons, its participation in the LGBT Focal Points Network of the Council of Europe, etc.

Spain also actively participates in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council, raising issues and formulating recommendations relating to the protection of the rights of LGBTI persons in those countries in which human rights violations have been detected.

Furthermore, the question of the human rights of LGBTI persons is also habitually raised in bilateral dialogue with third countries.

The rights of people with disabilities
On the basis of a solid body of domestic laws and policies, as well as the growing relevance that the rights of people with disabilities have in areas such as cooperation, Spain supports the approach of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of 2006 (CRPD), whose adoption has meant a paradigm shift in this area, recognising people with disabilities as true subjects of law.
The work of Spain in favour of people with disabilities was recognised in 2012 by the Franklin D. Roosevelt International Disability Award. The aim of this prestigious award is to give visibility to human rights and the inclusion of people with disabilities and to encourage Member States of the United Nations to work towards the full and equal participation of people with disabilities in all facets of society.

In the European arena, Spain is proud that the EU signed up to the CRPD in 2010, the first international human rights treaty which the EU has been party to since it acquired a legal personality under the Lisbon Treaty.

The human right to drinking water and sanitation
The recognition of the human right to drinking water and sanitation (HRWS) has become one of the major priorities of Spanish foreign policy in human rights and development cooperation.

In 2006, Spain and Germany undertook a joint initiative to promote the recognition of this human right in the United Nations, considering that the right to drinking water and sanitation is essential for the achievement of other human rights and that it is based on the right to an adequate level of life included in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

On 28 July 2010, the human right to water and sanitation was recognised by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution 64/292. Since then, the creation of the figure of Special Rapporteur for the human right to water and sanitation, as well as a series of subsequent resolutions, have contributed to the consolidation of this human right.

Recognition at a theoretical level is supplemented with a long-standing tradition of work in the sector of water by the Spanish Development Cooperation Agency, for which the water sector is strategic and priority, as it contributes to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and is key for achieving other human rights (health, education, food).

Companies and human rights
The issue of human rights and transnational business activity is one of the aspects of Corporate Social or Business Responsibility (CSR). The work carried out by the United Nations according to the "Ruggie Principles" (Respect, Protect and Remedy) was developed by the Human Rights Council in June 2011 into the "Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights" and led to the creation of a significant institutional architecture, including a Working Group of five independent experts as a special mechanism of the Human Rights Council, and a Forum on business and human rights guided by the Working Group, that examines the trends and problems in applying the Guiding Principles and promotes dialogue and cooperation in the matter of companies and human rights.

Spain firmly supports this process, as well as the coordination needed with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational companies, with the principles of the Global Compact (a United Nations initiative designed to achieve a voluntary commitment by companies through the implementation of ten principles based on human rights and labour, environmental and anti-corruption issues, of which many Spanish companies form part); as well as the activities of the ILO in matters of CSR.

In October 2011, the European Union launched the new Strategy for 2011-2014 on corporate social responsibility. It invites the Member States to develop a national plan to implement the guiding principles of the United Nations on companies and human rights. Spain accepted this invitation and the Human Rights Office is working to create a National Plan for Companies and Human Rights along the lines of what has been established in this Strategy. It is now in its final approval stage. This process has been carried out in a climate of transparency that is open to all the actors involved: government, international organisations, companies and civil society.
Defenders of human rights
Defenders of human rights are individuals, groups or institutions that protect and defend human rights and fundamental universally recognised freedoms. They often have to deal with threats and attacks by people, groups or authorities because of the activities they engage in to defend human rights.
In 1998, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Declaration recognises that human rights defenders play an essential role in human rights and the consolidation of democratic systems.

The Human Rights Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation manage the programme set up in 1998 for the protection and temporary reception of human rights defenders who are under threat. The programme is aimed at human rights defenders who are under threat or in a high-risk situation. It guarantees that their identify remains absolutely confidential. It is important to note the temporary nature of their reception. The Human Rights Office collaborates with other programmes for receiving human rights campaigners carried out by NGOs and independent institutions.


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