As recognized by international law, the human right to an adequate standard of living contains quite a few components, each noted as distinct human rights. You have the rights to be healthy, obtain food and find shelter, for example. You also have the right to access clean drinking water and adequate sanitation, which are related to the human rights above, among others.
Since the UN adopted “the human right to water and sanitation” in 2010, the two things have been conflated as one right in various texts and references. For years, however, experts have been noting that the two, while obviously related, are separate and complex in their own rights, so to speak, and should be referred to as such.
Now, for the first time, the United Nations has clarified that the human rights to water and sanitation are two separate rights, each with their own characteristics.
Why is this an important distinction? As countries strive to meet obligations established in the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, their understanding of what it will take to improve sanitation and end open defecation will be crucial. So it’s important to emphasize sanitation, which doesn’t always involve water.
UN recognises right to sanitation as a distinct human right – firstpost.com
Dispatches: UN resolution enshrines rights to clean drinking water, sanitation – Human Rights Watch
United Nations General Assembly affirms that water and sanitation are distinct rights and confirms a strong definition of these rights – Joint press release from Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and WASH United
17 Sustainable Development Goals Adopted at the United Nations
World Water Day: UN World Water Development Report Warns of Global Crisis by 2030
If You Could Advise the UN on Water, What Would You Say?
Water’s Place Among Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals