We can't live without water, yet millions of people across the globe don't have access to a clean source of this most basic of necessities — and the United Nations has finally officially recognized this disparity. Safe and clean drinking water will be added to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the U.N. General Assembly declared Wednesday.
Environment News Service reports that under the new resolution, U.N. member states will be asked to help poorer nations provide water for drinking and sanitation to everyone through funding, technology and other resources.
The water rights resolution was unanimously approved when it came before the assembly, with 122 votes in favor. Forty-one countries abstained from voting, including the United States — but not because the U.S. government isn't in favor of clean water for all, says John Sammis, U.S. deputy representative to the Economic and Social Council.
According to Sammis, the U.S. declined to vote because the government believes it may interfere with more effective work underway at the U.N.'s Human Rights Council.
"This resolution attempts to take a short-cut around the serious work of formulating, articulating and upholding universal rights,” Sammis told ENS.
“It was not drafted in a transparent, inclusive manner, and the legal implications of a declared right to water have not yet been carefully and fully considered in this body or in Geneva."
The General Assembly did honor the request of the Human Rights Council for U.N. Independent Expert Caterina de Albuquerque to report annually to the assembly on the challenges to achieving this right to water. De Albuquerque is an authority on human rights in relation to safe drinking water and sanitation.