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

30 July 2010

A United Nations expert today welcomed the General Assembly’s declaration this week that safe and clean drinking water is a human right, calling it a “landmark resolution” that sends an important signal to the world.

Catarina de Albuquerque, the UN Independent Expert on human rights, water and sanitation, issued a statement in which she said the declaration augured well for the summit at UN Headquarters in New York in September, when world leaders are set to review progress towards the social and economic targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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.

“With almost a billion people suffering from lack of access to an improved water source, and 2.6 billion without access to improved sanitation, recognition of the human right to water and sanitation is a positive signal from the international community and shows its commitment to tackle these issues,” Ms. de Albuquerque said.

On Wednesday 122 members of the General Assembly voted in favour of the resolution declaring water and sanitation to be a human right. No countries voted against the text but 41 Member States abstained.

News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

General Assembly declares access to clean water and sanitation is a human right

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.