Human rights and water

Many people do not know that there is a human right to water. This right was developed over several years from the early 1990’s to the official recognition of the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation in 2010. The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 64/292 which declared that the safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right.

The right to water has been mentioned in the UN Conventions. The Convention on the Elimination on all forms of Discrimination Against Women from 1979 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child from 1989 mention a right to water. The Millennium Development Goals also played an important part in putting water on the agenda by stating a target to halve the proportion of people without access to sustainable drinking water and sanitation.

Declaring the right to safe drinking water and sanitation a human right is a step towards dealing with the pressing water issues that we see in many parts of the world. The fact is that 844 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 2.3 billion people do not have access to adequate sanitation.

Water related diseases are the leading cause of death in developing countries. More people die from diseases related to water, than in wars. Children and vulnerable groups are especially exposed. And every year 1.5 million children die from water related diseases. These numbers show that unsafe water and sanitation is a major killer in the world today. And that something has to be done to deal with the pressing needs of children and vulnerable groups suffering from a lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation.