After years of grassroots pressure, the UN General Assembly will debate a resolution July 28th on the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation.
Maude Barlow, former senior advisor on water to the president of the UN General Assembly, has described the lack of access to clean water as the “most violated human right.” Currently, 1.2 billion people have no access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion live without proper sanitation. Every eight seconds a child dies from preventable waterborne disease.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, does not explicitly recognize the human right to water, an omission which is overdue for redress. As climate change aggravates water scarcity and contamination, advocates say that a specific resolution on water is essential to protect the most vulnerable.
At press time, many states, most notably the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and England, oppose the human right to water and sanitation resolution. The vote is likely to follow a North-South split, with the co-sponsors predominantly from the South.