GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECLARES ACCESS TO CLEAN
WATER AND SANITATION IS A HUMAN RIGHT
York, Jul 28 2010
Safe and clean drinking water and
sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all
other human rights, the General Assembly declared today, voicing deep concern
that almost 900 million
people worldwide do not have access to clean water.
The 192-member Assembly also called on United Nations
and international organizations to offer funding, technology and other
resources to help poorer countries scale up their efforts to provide clean,
accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone.
The Assembly resolution received 122 votes in favour and zero votes against,
while 41 countries abstained from voting.
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 and 443 million school
days are lost because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.
Today‘s resolution also welcomes the UN Human Rights Council’s request that
Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN 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.
Ms. de Albuquerque’s report will focus on the principal challenges to achieving
the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, as well as on
progress towards the relevant Millennium Development Goals (<"http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/">MDGs).
The MDGs, a series of targets for reducing social and economic ills, all by
2015, includes the goals of halving the proportion of people who cannot reach or
afford safe drinking water and halving the number who do not have basic
In a related development, Ms. de Albuquerque issued a statement today after
wrapping up a nine-day official visit to Japan in which she praised the
country for its nearly universal access to water and sanitation and for its use
of innovative technologies to promote hygiene and treat wastewater. But the Independent Expert
said she was shocked that some members of the Utoro community near Kyoto, where Koreans have
been living for several generations, still do not have access to water from the
"People are also not connected to the sewage network, despite the fact
that the surrounding area is largely covered by sewage service," she said.
"When floods occur, as happened one year ago, the lack of sewage and
proper evacuation of grey water result in contamination of the environment,
including with human faeces, posing serious health concerns.
"I am also worried that water and sanitation are extremely expensive for
some people living in Utoro, who reportedly do not have a right to receive a
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