03 September 2010

Annotated: UN Resolution on the Human Right to Water

Editor's Note: following is the complete text of the recent United Nations Resolution on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation, on which I reported previously. There are two principal changes that I have made: (1) superscript footnotes have been changed to bracketed end notes, without changes in the numbering or text; (2) links have been added everywhere that I could find an external resource that might contribute to discussion better understanding on the text of the resolution itself. This is not my commentary on the resolution or the outcome of the vote on 28 July in the UN General Assembly, simply an aid to those of us with interests in the state of international water governance...



United Nations
General Assembly


Sixty-fourth session
Agenda item 48
Integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields


A/64/L.63/Rev.1 [*]
Distr.: Limited
26 July 2010
Original: English

Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Yemen: draft resolution


The human right to water and sanitation

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolutions 54/175 of 17 December 1999, on the right to development, 55/196 of 20 December 2000, proclaiming 2003 as the International Year of Freshwater, 58/217 of 23 December 2003, proclaiming the International Decade for Action, ''Water for Life'' (2005-2015), 59/228 of 22 December 2004, 61/192 of 20 December 2006, proclaiming 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation, and 64/198 of 21 December 2009, regarding the midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade for Action, ''Water for Life'', Agenda 21 of June 1992 [1], the Habitat Agenda of 1996 [2], the Mar del Plata Action Plan of 1977 [3] adopted by the United Nations Water Conference, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of June 1992 [4],

Recalling also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [5], the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights [6], the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [6], the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination [7], the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [8], the Convention on the Rights of the Child [9], the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities [10] and the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949 [11],

Recalling further all previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council on ''human rights and access to safe drinking water and sanitation'', including Council resolutions 7/22 of 28 March 2008 and 12/8 of 1 October 2009, related to the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, General Comment No. 15 (2002) of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, on the right to water (articles 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) [12] and the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the scope and content of the relevant human rights obligations related to equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation under international human rights instruments [13], as well as the report of the independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation [14],

Deeply concerned that approximately 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and that more than 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation, and alarmed that approximately 1.5 million children under 5 years of age die and 443 million school days are lost each year as a result of water- and sanitation-related diseases,

Acknowledging the importance of equitable, safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as an integral component of the realization of all human rights,

Reaffirming the responsibility of States for the promotion and protection of all human rights, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and must be treated globally, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis,

Bearing in mind the commitment made by the international community to fully achieve the Millennium Development Goals, and stressing, in that context, the resolve of Heads of State and Government, as expressed in the United Nations Millennium Declaration [15], to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water, and to halve the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation, as agreed in the Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (''Johannesburg Plan of Implementation'') [16],

  1. Declares 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 the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation present an annual report to the General Assembly [17], 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 Millennium Development Goals.
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[*] Reissued for technical reasons on 27 July 2010.

[1] Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3 - 14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and corrigendum), resolution 1, annex II.

[2] Report of the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), Istanbul, 3 - 14 June 1996 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.97.IV.6), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.

[3] Report of the United Nations Water Conference, Mar del Plata, 14 - 25 March 1977 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.77.II.A.12), chap. I.

[4] Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 3 - 14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by the Conference (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and corrigendum), resolution 1, annex I.

[5] Resolution 217 A (III).

[6] See resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.

[7] United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 660, No. 9464.

[8] Ibid., vol. 1249, No. 20378.

[9] Ibid., vol. 1577, No. 27531.

[10] Resolution 61/106, annex I.

[11] United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, No. 973.

[12] See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 2003, Supplement No. 2 (E/2003/22), annex IV.

[13] A/HRC/6/3.

[14] A/HRC/12/24.

[15] See resolution 55/2.

[16] Report of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 August - 4 September 2002 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.03.II.A.1 and corrigendum), chap. I, resolution 2, annex.

[17] See Human Rights Council resolution 12/8.


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