Water as a Human Right


Today the United Nations is holding a historic summit on the Human Right to Water. In 1948, when the Declaration of Human Rights was written, few, if any, predicted that we’d be having a global water crisis and wars over water resources 60 years later.

Now, world leaders are voting on a resolution to decide if ‘Access to clean water and sanitation’ should be a human right.

The vote that’s taking place today, as set forward by Bolivia, is not about infrastructure, or sorting out how water and sanitation should be provided. It’s about recognising water as a human right, the same way that dignity and the right to life, liberty and security of person are.

This is the part that makes my blood boil. There are countries that are opposed to this. It’s astounding.

One of which is Canada, my home and native land. Why Canada, why? The Canadian government has very openly expressed opposition to the resolution. I feel ashamed. Could it be because now the government would have to act in native Canadian communities where water sources are of a developing world standard? Or is it because this would be potenially having to share our abundance of fresh clean water with others?

David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK is also opposed to the resolution. Apparently he’s cool with the access to water part, but not the whole sanitation bit.

Not surprising, the US also rejects the resolution, as do Turkey and Egypt who fear boundary disputes once the resolution is passed. These are the problems that arise when a human right also happens to be a dimishing commodity, essential to industry, agriculture and life.

Getting countries to vote on water becoming a human right is not just incredibly important, but water is a fundemental, indisputable, basic human need.

Katherine Hui
Katherine Hui is currently the Social site editor at Green Thing, a web-based public service in London that inspires people to lead greener lives through creative content.

Before this, she worked as the Development Manager at Social Innovation Camp, an organization that encourages people to use web and mobile-based technology to mobilise social change. She oversaw 300 ideas submission and helped build 20 prototypes – five of which have gone on to get further funding or investment.

Katherine’s came over to the UK form Canada in 2007 for an MSc program at the London School of Economics. Before arriving in London, she managed a small environmental start-up in Vancouver called the Canadian Climate Change Alliance.

Katherine is football mad. She is a loyal supporter of Arsenal FC, plays for Islington Borough Ladies FC and coaches for Gunners in Islington in her spare time. Her second favourite hobby is kite surfing and she can sometimes be found chasing the wind.
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