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U.N. Affirms Human Right to Water

For Immediate Release:
July 29, 2010

Contact:
Christina Rossi, 617-447-2540

NEW YORK – In a historic vote, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the human right to water and sanitation, citing concerns that nearly 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean water.

The 192-member Assembly also called on United Nations Member States and international organizations to offer funding, technology and other resources to help developing countries scale up their efforts to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone.

The Assembly resolution, championed by Bolivia with over 40 cosponsors, received 122 votes in favor and zero votes against, while 41 countries abstained from voting.  The United States abstained, but issued a statement in support of the overall effort to realize the human right to water.

“The General Assembly vote is a clear victory for the water justice movement and will help ensure that international regulatory bodies and national governments fully recognize the human right to water and begin to work towards fulfilling their obligations with respect to providing clean water and sanitation to those lacking,” said Kelle Louaillier, executive director of Corporate Accountability International. 

The text of the resolution expresses deep concern that 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 also indicate about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.

The resolution states that “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.”

The resolution also welcomes the U.N. Human Rights Council’s request that Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, report annually to the General Assembly as well.

“The right to drinking water and sanitation are independent rights that should be recognized as such,” said Plurinational State of Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon. “It is not sufficient to urge States to comply with their human rights obligations relative to access to drinking water and sanitation. Instead, it is necessary to call on states to promote and protect the human right to drinking water and sanitation.”

List of sponsoring countries :

Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, The Plurinational State of Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Fiji, Georgia, Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, The Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Yemen.

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