The United Nations General Assembly has declared for the first time that access to clean water and sanitation is a fundamental human right. In a historic vote Wednesday, 122 countries supported the resolution, and over forty countries abstained from voting, including the United States, Canada and several European and other industrialized countries. There were no votes against the resolution. We speak with longtime water justice activist, Maude Barlow. [includes rush transcript]
Nearly one billion people lack clean drinking water, and over two-and-a-half billion do not have basic sanitation.
Bolivia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Pablo Solon, introduced the resolution at the General Assembly Wednesday.
- PABLO SOLON: [translated]
At the global level, approximately one out of every eight people do not
have drinking water. In just one day, more than 200 million hours of
the time used by women is spent collecting and transporting water for
their homes. The lack of sanitation is even worse, because it affects
2.6 billion people, which represents 40 percent of the global
population. According to the report of the World Health Organization and
of UNICEF of 2009, which is titled
"Diarrhoea: Why Children Are [Still] Dying and What We Can Do," every
day 24,000 children die in developing countries due to causes that can
be prevented, such as diarrhea, which is caused by contaminated water.
This means that a child dies every three-and-a-half seconds. One, two,
three. As they say in my village, the time is now.
- AMY GOODMAN: Bolivia’s
ambassador to the United Nations, Pablo Solon, urging support for the
resolution Bolivia introduced recognizing access to clean water and
sanitation as a fundamental human right.
For more on this historic vote, we’re joined now here in New York by longtime water justice advocate Maude Barlow. She’s the chair of the Council of Canadians, co-founder of the Blue Planet Project and board chair of Food and Water Watch. Last year she served as senior adviser on water to the President of the United Nations General Assembly.
- PABLO SOLON: In
those days, I was a water warrior. Now I’m a water warrior ambassador.
We have to have water declared as a human right in the UN. It is not
possible to see that we have declared in the UN food, the right to food,
the right to health, the right to education, the right to shelter, the
right to development, but not the right to water. And we all know that
without water, we can’t live. So nobody can argue that it’s not a basic
and fundamental and universal human right. But even though, until now,
it’s not recognized as a human right. So, we have presented, two weeks
ago, a draft resolution so that this coming month, in July, we expect to
have a vote in the General Assembly of the United Nations. And we want
to see which countries are going to vote against that resolution. We
want to go to vote to see which governments are going to say to the
humanity that water is not a human right.
SOURCE: Democracy Now