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UN Declares That Clean Drinking Water is a Human Right

UN Declares That Clean Drinking Water is a Human Right

On July 28, the United Nations General Assembly voted to declare that access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a basic human right.

Originally proposed by Bolivia and co-sponsored by 35 states, the resolution passes with 122 states voting in favor of it and 41 abstaining.

An estimated 884 million people do not have access to clean water and over 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation. Consequently, 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of diseases related to water or sanitation.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who founded the environmental NGO Green Cross International in 1993, recently wrote an op-ed further explaining why the right to clean water is so significant. “As population growth and climate change increase the pressure for adequate water and food, water will increasingly become a security issue. As global temperatures rise, ‘water refugees’ will increase.”

Gorbachev also contends that investing in clean water benefits those in need as well as the global economy. “A $20 million investment in low-cost water technologies could help 100 million farming families escape extreme poverty. Dedicating $15 billion a year to the water and sanitation millennium goals could bring $38 billion a year in global economic benefits. That’s a pretty good rate of return in today’s financial climate.”

The UN’s resolution will not result in sudden changes for those currently without clean water and sanitation, but it will place more pressure on governments to ensure the well-being of their citizens. In addition Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, is expected to deliver an annual report to the General Assembly showing the steps being taken to ensure this basic right as well as tracking its progress.

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230 comments

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2:43PM PDT on Apr 25, 2011

On 30 Sept 2010, the Human Rights Council affirmed the human right to water and sanitation, making it legally binding.

4:30PM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

i live in my house in caledon ontario for 25 years without drinkable water.I depend on my polluted and unreliable well, city water is close on the street 4 houses south. Shame on my mayor & regional councillore,s for neglecting too provide my neighbors and me with water ,Wee are people too.

4:28PM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

i live in my house in caledon ontario for 25 years without drinkable water.I depend on my polluted and unreliable well, city water is close on the street 4 houses south. Shame on my mayor & regional councillore,s for neglecting too provide my neighbors and me with water ,Wee are people too.

4:26PM PDT on Nov 5, 2010

i live in my house in caledon ontario for 25 years without drinkable water.I depend on my polluted and unreliable well, city water is close on the street 4 houses south. Shame on my mayor & regional councillore,s for neglecting too provide my neighbors and me with water ,Wee are people too.

12:44AM PDT on Sep 10, 2010

gracias

7:38AM PDT on Aug 15, 2010

I wish there was someone in the US govt. that could put pressure on pres. Zuma in S.Africa. There are millions of poor black people that have only access to heavily polluted water with all the filth you can imagine!
Zuma always promises the earth in speeches but nothing concrete is done because of the fat cats in his govt. that live off taxpayers contributions! There is never any money left for basis services!

4:29AM PDT on Aug 14, 2010

... places like Las Vegas come to mind where freshwater is being (ab-)used for the fun of a few and for the price of many having to suffer from manmade droughts. The same, e.g., goes for European countries like Spain and Greece e.a. where people buy houses with pools filled with the water that's now missing in agriculture, causing rivers to dry out and farmers to struggle for their survival. Strawberries at any time of the year, almost, for the cost of a balanced ecological and economical system. The European Union causes damage due to their nonsensical rules that have made millions of acres become mono cultures and forbidding farmers to grow the variety of produce they used to live on for generations.
I could go on and on... sadly.

1:51AM PDT on Aug 12, 2010

So does this mean that governments like America Canada England and Australia will have to stop putting contaminants like fluoride in our water requiring great waste to remove it by those who are awake to the dangers of consumption.

11:15AM PDT on Aug 11, 2010

The U.N. says that lack of water will be the next major worldwide crisis -- not just in underdeveloped lands, but in all countries. The water crisis has just begun with the horrendous oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and in the freshwater Great Lakes of North America, not to mention the one off the coast of Nigeria. Who knows where other spills are occurring now or have occurred that received no publicity?! It is time for all countries seriously to promote harvesting and purifying rainfall and reusing gray water from washing machines, bath/shower water, etc.

4:49PM PDT on Aug 10, 2010

Now if only we could tackle the global warming issue, not as many people would be watching their already meager water supply dry up.... I sure wish the US would stop dragging its feet on this most important of issues!

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