On July 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly agreed to a resolution declaring the human right to “safe and clean drinking water and sanitation.” The resolution, presented by the Bolivian government, had 122 countries vote in its favour, while 41 countries – including Canada – abstained.
For more than a decade the water justice movement, including the Council of Canadians’ Blue Planet Project, has been calling for UN leadership on this critical issue. Right now nearly 2 billion people live in water-stressed areas of the world and 3 billion have no running water within a kilometre of their homes. Every eight seconds, a child dies of water-borne disease – deaths that would be easily preventable with access to clean, safe water.
“This is truly an historic day,” said Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians who was at the UN meeting for the vote. ”When the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights was written, no one could foresee a day when water would be a contested area. But in 2010, it is not an exaggeration to say that the lack of access to clean water is the greatest human rights violation in the world.” Barlow was joined for the important vote by the Council of Canadians’ National Water Campaigner Meera Karunananthan and Blue Planet project Organizer Anil Naidoo.