UN Water Charter

Right to clean water

Access to clean water is a human right.

On July 28, 2010, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 64/292 recognized the right to water as a human right. The resolution was adopted with 122 members’ votes. 41 states have abstained.

The refusal has been justified by the fact that an “international right to water” does not exist and, moreover, the resolution is too vague and inaccurate. The resolution has also been rejected for financial reasons, because many countries lack money to implement the goal of the resolution – improving water supply.

On the other hand, the advocates derive the human right to water from Article 11 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Reasonable living standards include the right to sanitation and clean water. Moreover, other human rights without the right to water are unimaginable:

  • e.g. the right to life is not possible without water or
  • the right to food and protection from hunger naturally includes water, and not least
  • the right to health and physical integrity and adequate medical care is (almost) not attainable without clean water and sanitation.

To make this human right accessible to all people requires not only financial resources, but also technical knowledge and the mutual help and support of all states. The human right to water is violated if the available resources are not used and external support is banned in order to guarantee a basic water supply.

ar64292en