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Water as Human Right


Babbling Brook Water as a Human Right

Bonn, Germany, 15 July 2004 (IUCN) The call to declare water a human right has been growing over the years. Until now, the content and scope of a right to water has not been clearly defined in international law and has not been explicitly recognized as a fundamental human right.

Formally establishing water as a human right could encourage the international community and governments to enhance their efforts to satisfy basic human needs and to thereby meet the Millennium Development Goals.

But critical questions arise: What would be the benefits and content of such a right? What mechanisms would be required for its effective implementation? Should the duty be placed on governments alone, or should the responsibility also be borne by private actors? Is another 'academic debate' on this subject warranted when action is really what is necessary?

Without claiming to prescribe the answers, the latest IUCN publication 'Water as a Human Right?' clearly and carefully sets out the competing arguments and the challenges.

"This publication provides an excellent platform for critical thinking and informed debate," said Achim Steiner, IUCN Director General.

Water as a human right? provides a legal review of international conventions and agreements with regard to human rights and water, explores the possible content and scope of water as a human right, and examines the duties of various parties.

The publication particularly seeks to address a human right to water in a wider context, which views water as both a social and environmental resource: A failure to recognize water as an environmental resource may jeopardize the rights-based approach, say the authors.

In the end, the authors conclude that a rights-based approach could be a logical means of giving effect to agreements such as the Millennium Development Goals and their reconfirmation at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. Yet, they caution that ultimately, there is no substitute for making meaningful change on the ground

'Water as a Human Right?' was produced by the IUCN Environmental Law Programme in collaboration with FAO and UNDP.

**About the publication
Water as a Human Right ? by John Scanlon, Angela Cassar, and Noémi Nemes can be downloaded directly from:
Water as a Human Right

**More information
The World Conservation Union

Batir M. Wardam
Project Coordinator
National Capacity Self Assessment (NCSA) for Global Environmental Management
Ministry of Environment
Tel 00962 6 5350149-122
Fax 00962 6 5350084
Mobile 00962 79 5052110
P.O.Box 1408
Amman 11941

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