Right to water

The right of access to clean water has been recognized on 28 July 2010 by the General Assembly of the United Nations as a human right. Bolivia and 33 other states have the resolution 64/292 introduced in the Assembly. Since the universal human rights, including the right to clean water for all 192 member states of the United Nations are not legally binding, they are not enforceable. However, the anchoring of human rights is a high political priority to water. The human right to water is discharged pursuant to Article 11.1 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The human right to water is a prerequisite for others, such as the human right to life, adequate food and medical care.

Result of the vote

122 countries voted for the resolution, 29 states were not present at the meeting, 41 abstentions, including Canada and the United States. In its ruling stated that the resolution was ambiguous and there was no " international law " on water. Germany supported the resolution, a clearer responsibility would however desired.

Legal Status

Unlike resolutions of the UN Security Council, those of the General Assembly are not legally binding. Status of the " right of access to clean water " as part of the legally binding international customary law is at least unclear, there is little evidence of the requisite consuetudo and opinio juris. The derivation of Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights is at least doubtful, since the wording of the provision of water not mentioned. It therefore speak powerfully argued that not to be considered " right of access to clean water " as legally binding.

Content of the resolution

The resolution provides that States and international companies are financially ahead with the development and expansion of water infrastructure systems - particularly in third world countries. Around 884 million people have no access to clean water and 2.6 billion people have no access to sanitation. In the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations is envisaged that by 2015 the number of people is halved without access to clean water. To achieve this goal, some 10 billion dollars are needed annually - the equivalent of less than half of what is spent in industrial countries for expensive bottled water.

Global situation

Around 1.5 million people die each year from contaminated water. One reason is the waste that is not disposed of in developing countries, but untreated ends up in lakes and rivers. In addition, lack of sanitation and waste from agriculture, the unexplained contaminate the water cycle. Water pipes, sewage treatment plants and sewage systems are in the countries of the Third World often absent. Is there such infrastructure is dilapidated or she usually keeps the increasing population growth was not. However, a positive trend can be seen: 1990 77 % of the world population were connected to safe drinking water sources. Twelve years later, there were already 83%. In South Asia, the connection rate increased from 71 to 84%. In sub-Saharan Africa, progress is not so fast: 49 % of people had access to clean water in 1990, 2002, there were 58 % of people. Just because in these regions the population is growing rapidly, these growth rates are a success. In the East African state of Tanzania, the proportion of the population with access to safe drinking water increased from 38% in to 73%.

Financing of the human right to water

In many countries, international law enshrined right to water is not being implemented. In most cases, these states shy away from high financial obligations. But primarily provides for the resolution to create the conditions and national standards for water and wastewater infrastructure that enables the condition of access to clean water. The economic benefit is enormous: With every dollar invested in water supply the nation's economy by $ 8 is avoided. Germany calls for intensive international legal effort to implement the human right to water globally.

To this must be:

  • To achieve the political will of a state this, be present and be strengthened - Laws, regulations and conditions are created.
  • Provide the respective States shall ensure that the water supply of the country is guaranteed. The private sector participation is not excluded with reasonable rates.

A comprehensive and intact water and wastewater infrastructure brings a country:

  • Economic benefits: growth and prosperity develop when basic human needs are met.
  • Fewer deaths: about 1.5 million people die each year from the effects of contaminated water
  • More time for work, education and childcare. The World Health Organization expects 30 minutes and spends a person without access to sanitation every day to relieve himself. By gaining time, cause the sanitary facilities, a family of six would win in a week 21 hours. Extrapolating the 100 billion U.S. dollars annually, which is generated when people have access to clean water.
  • Lower health care costs.

In most countries that have no access to clean water, reaching the international target is hard to overcome: the lack of money and the technological knowledge to build a water and sanitation. Therefore, EU, ​​World Bank and International Monetary Fund to achieve the goals of the resolution with the help of the private sector. With public-private partnership models, joint ventures and direct investment from developed countries to reduce risks and investment protection are offered. This implies a privatization or partial privatization already pre- existing public catering establishments.

Forms of financing

Water is considered a public good, subject to economic factors and has an environmental value. States are open, whether water and sewer systems are publicly managed or companies. Study on the privatization of water supply in Manila According to a, the water supply and sanitation in the country is better than before privatization. At times the public management of water infrastructure systems, the state is not supplying illegal settlement areas with water. With the private management by Ondeo / Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, this distinction fell away: the non-state companies take precautions and the illegal settlements. Within the first five years of 1 million people were provided with water connections. Positive Effects: The human right to access to clean water is put into action. Moreover, with each new water connection, water prices fall. People must not buy overpriced water from a dealer, the corruption is curbed. Although many people get so access to clean water, it was not possible over a long period to couple the high water connection rate to the rapid population growth. Likewise, the study shows that the targets were not met in the waste water situation up on some pilot projects.

The population growth in Bangladesh's capital Dhaka grows disproportionately fast. The region around Dhaka is particularly affected by pollution and inadequate water supply. In addition, the groundwater in the country is poisoned with arsenic for geological reasons and endangers the lives of about 35 million people. Therefore, water is a very precious commodity in Bangladesh: A liter costs around 15 euro cents there. To feed a family of four with water, around 150 Taka are necessary. The average daily income of a Bengali is around 200 taka ( about 1.80 euros ). The Grameen Bank and the French environmental services provider Veolia there have started a social business project: The objective is to allow a town with 25,000 inhabitants have access to clean water. In a water treatment plant filthy river water is transformed into clean drinking water. Ten liters of water sold to Veolia for 1 taka ( about 1 Euro cents). The plant can produce up to 10,000 liters of water in one hour. Both companies operate the project to cover costs, neither profit nor costs should arise.

Disadvantages at a state-run management of water infrastructure are inadequate cost recovery, little flexibility, no competition and no control structures that prevent corruption. In addition, inefficient state structures work and have insufficient knowledge of business and finance.

Obligations of state and non -state actors

In order to implement the human right to water, both the responsible State and non-State actors must follow certain principles.

  • States should fulfill, respect and protect the human right to water.
  • States should respect the human right to water in other countries and do not affect the duty of those.
  • With international cooperation to other countries should be supported in the implementation of the human right to water.
  • Respect the human right to water and help to implement it within their means also to non-governmental companies, individuals and international organizations.

A state violates the human right to water if he does not use the resources available to ensure a water-bottom supply and sanitation. The water infrastructure systems need to provide a sustainable and equitable fare system. A state may, however, prohibit any efforts of individuals, groups, companies or other non-state actors.

European Parliament

2013 reached the European Citizens' Initiative Water is a human right! a total of 1.8 million signatures.