UN General Assembly Declares Nov. 19th 'World Toilet Day'

July 31, 2013 - 10:40 AM

United Natiions General Assembly

United Nations General Assembly (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The United Nations General Assembly voted unanimously last Wednesday to establish November 19th as “World Toilet Day.”

More than just an annual tribute to the porcelain express, the UN’s legislative body is hoping to draw attention to the estimated “2.5 billion people [who] lacked proper sanitation and 1.1 billion [who] were forced to defecate in the open,” states a UN press release.

Braving the “amusement and laughter” such a declaration might engender would be worthwhile if it encourages policies that increase modern sanitation among poor, developing nations, the press release noted..

“Ending open defecation will lead to a 35 percent reduction in diarrhoea, which results in over 750,000 deaths of children under five years of age every year,” Singapore’s UN representative said as he tabled a draft resolution of “Sanitation for All,” one of four adopted by consensus on July 23.

The resolution also urged member states “to encourage behavioural change, to introduce policies that would increase sanitation among the poor, and to accelerate progress towards attaining Millennium Development Goal 7” which is focused on sustainable environmental practices.

But the "World Toilet Day' resolution will not accomplish much, UN expert and Heritage Foundation scholar Brett Schaefer said in an interview with  CNSNews.com.

“This is just another example of the UN passing a rather pointless and anodyne commemorative resolution. Ostensibly, it’s supposed to bring attention to various issues, and sanitation is obviously an important issue, particularly in the developing world. But in terms of practical effect, it has virtually none,” Schaefer said.

“You can go through the list of the dozens, hundreds of other days and observances, but does anybody set aside time to recognize the International Day of Happiness or World Poetry Day?  Does the world not watch television for World Television Day?

“These are just, in terms of the impact, in terms of recognition, in terms of the attention they get, there is virtually no impact by the UN, and this [World Toilet Day] is likely to have just as little [impact] as all the others.”

The United States contributed $7. billion to the UN in 2010, according to the Office of Management and Budget. While complicated, segmented and incomplete reporting makes calculating the UN’s total budget difficult, the Congressional Research Service states that the U.S. contribution that year made up 22 percent of the UN’s total budget. (See CRS UN Budget.pdf)

Instituted as a replacement to the League of Nations – which failed to prevent World War II – the UN was established in 1945 with a mission to “maintain international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and promote social progress, better living standards and human rights.”

But since then, the international peace-keeping body has failed to prevent over 200 major wars and regional conflicts, according to an estimate by the University of Michigan.