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Brought up Jan 3, 2010

Why is the right to water not a human right?

Why is the right to water not a human right?

Water is essential to the survival of the planet, i.e., plants, wildlife, human beings. Bottom line: without water, we all die. Yet, although water is not an infinite resource and there are limited supplies of it, there exists no single legal document that specifically includes free and public access to water as a basic human right. The Universal Convention of Human rights does not even mention the issue — only indirectly as can be implied from the right to a healthy standard of living stipulated in its Article 25. And in the meantime, millions of people die of either from lack of safe drinking water or related diseases each year. Picture this reality: In a report issued in 2000 jointly by WHO/UNICEF, it was stated that “a child dies every 15 seconds from diarrhoea, caused largely by poor sanitation and water supply.”

In rural areas in Africa, children do not go to school so they can spend much of their day working to collect enough water from a water hole (from which animals often also drink) for their family to consume. Each day they go through the same back breaking routine: collect what is usually muddy, dirty water and carry it back on foot — a several hours’ journey — to their village. Despite this harsh reality, no one has yet come up with a standard definition of access to safe water. How important is this? Why should we have it? Why should water be a guaranteed right?

Yet, one could speculate there is a dark, twisted reason for this. And it all boils down to the same old thing: money. In fact, since the first swallow of bottled water was first launched onto a thirsty market, business minds started to reel with the possibilities of making profit from something that nature produced for free. Think about it: if water were a basic human right, how could we be made to pay to buy a bottle of water? That would be a violation of our rights. So every time we go to the market to pick that half liter up, we should save a thought for the child that likely lost its life because we can afford to pay to quench our thirst.


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dvisme » 7 years ago

This is a very important topic. Thanks for posting on it. I really couldn't agree more. It's heartbreaking that there are people without access to clean water, and it's insane that those with access to clean water would instead waste further natural resources by paying money for water that was shipped to a store, which is already an act of wasting fossil fuels, then drink water from bottles that are then thrown away, or maybe when convenient, recycled. It's all so completely inefficient and actually quite ridiculous.

I hope more people will turn to filtering their own water, or using their own containers to purchase filtered water in their own containers from filtered sources. In the United States, I'd certainly trust the tap water before I'd trust water processed and distributed by Coke and Pepsi companies. Let alone pay for such water.