Canadian Consulting Engineer

UN votes on access to water and sanitation as human right

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing access to clean water and sanitation as a...

August 16, 2010   Canadian Consulting Engineer

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recognizing access to clean water and sanitation as a human right on July 28. The resolution called on 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 all.”
The text was introduced to the Assembly by Bolivia’s representative. He said that, “the human right to water had not been fully recognized, despite references to it in various international instruments.” He also noted that, “lack of access to water killed more children annually than AIDS, malaria and measles combined, while the lack of sanitation affected 2.6 billion people, or 40 per cent of the global population.”
The Assembly voted 122 in favour, and none against. However, 41 nations abstained, including Canada and other western nations such as the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Greece, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Many of the countries abstaining argued that the statement was premature in light of work that was going on in the same vein at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. Canada’s UN representative said the UN statement was premature and that “the non-binding resolution appeared to determine that there was indeed a right without setting out its scope.”
Bolivia’s representative said he hoped the upcoming summit to review progress on the UN Milllennium Development Goals would also provide a clear signal that water and sanitation were human rights.


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