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EWP welcomes UN declaration that clean water and sanitation is a human right


19 Aug 2010


Climate & Environment
Health & Consumers

Brussels, August 2010. The European Water Partnership welcomes the UN General Assembly’s declaration that safe and clean drinking water is a human right.  On Wednesday, 28th July, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution proclaiming the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation. Presented by Bolivia and 33 other States, the resolution received 122 votes in favour. No countries voted against the text but 41 countries abstained.

The resolution calls on United Nations Member States and international organizations to provide financial resources, build capacity and transfer technology, particularly to developing countries, in scaling up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone.

According to the text of the resolution an estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and a total of more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Studies indicate that an absence of clean water or sanitation exacts a huge human toll. About 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year and 443 million school days are lost because of water – and sanitation – related diseases.

Ten years ago, another UN resolution on the “right to development’” had set a precedent by acknowledging the right to food and clean water. In comparison to that, the UN adopted for the first time a resolution particularly committed to the right to water and sanitation. It also goes further than the preceding resolution by proclaiming sanitation as human right and by clarifying the right to water.

“Recognizing water as a human right is a crucial step and positive signal from the international community. It shows joint commitment to tackle global water challenges”, says EWP Vice-Chairman Mr. Fritz Barth. By initiating the Water Vision for Europe 2030 two years ago, the EWP set the course for acknowledging “the access to basic water supply and sanitation as a human right” (Water Vision for Europe, Art. 2). Mr. Barth outlines: “The ten articles of the Vision serve as value base for EWP projects, programs and actions. Cooperation on all levels, coordination of initiatives and action in partnership are key mover in order to achieve universal access to modern and safe water supply and sanitation.”