The Human Right to Water and Sanitation

UN-Resolution 64/292
adopted by the 108th Plenary Session, General Assembly of the UN, on July 28, 2010.

The General Assembly of the United Nations

      1. Recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights;
      2. Calls upon States and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfer, through international assistance and cooperation, in particular to developing countries, in order to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all;
      3. Welcomes the decision by the Human Rights Council to request that the independent expert on human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation submit an annual report to the General Assembly,13 and encourages her to continue working on all aspects of her mandate and, in consultation with all relevant United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, to include in her report to the Assembly, at its sixty-sixth session, the principal challenges related to the realization of the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation and their impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Full text of UN resolution 64/292 in all UN languages here

Must Water be free?

Water and sanitation are a public good and not a commodity.

The UN resolution on the human right to water speaks of «safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all». Ensuring this costs. So caring for water and water services, including sanitary services, also has monetary implications. Therefore, in most cases, access to drinking water and sanitation is subject to a tariff, but this tariff must not exclude people from the basic supply of clean and safe drinking water and of sanitation. In extreme cases, where a person has no money at all, the human right to water presupposes that access to water is also guaranteed free of charge.

In no case should the basic supply of safe and clean drinking water depend on bottled water traded at market prices.

What do you mean by public?

Blue Community promotes cooperation with public partners so that knowledge and experience remain in the hands and under the control of the citizens and accessible to the general public.
Public thus means:

      • The state/local community has ultimate responsibility and ensures control over the water supply, even if it contracts third parties.
      • It protects the source and regulates its use. (Use is not left to the first or highest bidder).
      • Water management is transparent and involves the community (local governance).
      • If a cooperative or water committee is locally responsible for water supply (due to the weakness of state representation), the organizational form must do justice to the character of water as a public resource and must not exclude anyone from the basic supply.


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