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This article discusses a right to water as a human right under international law. For a discussion of water usage laws in common law, see Water right.

"It is now time to consider access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, defined as the right to equal and non-discriminatory access to a sufficient amount of safe drinking water for personal and domestic uses—drinking, personal sanitation, washing of clothes,food preparation and personal and household hygiene—to sustain life and health. States should prioritize these personal and domestic uses over other water uses and should take steps to ensure that this sufficient amount is of good quality, affordable for all and can becollected within a reasonable distance from a person's home." [1]

Institutions and organizations all over the world claim to recognize the right to water as a human right. The United Nations work on this way. The World Health Organization, the U.N.'s specialized agency for health, advocates for its acceptance more generally. The notion of a right to water reflects how intrinsic it is to a healthy human life and it is effectively an extension of the right to life.

When taken as human right, the right to water places certain responsibilities upon governments. The U.N. expects they take steps necessary to ensure that people can enjoy sufficient, safe, accessible and affordable water, without discrimination.[2] Most especially, governments are expected to take reasonable steps to avoid a contaminated water supply and to ensure there are no water access distinctions amongst citizens.

The right to water also has a trans-national aspect, given that water supplies naturally overlap borders. Water access is a cross-border source of concern and potential conflict in the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean and parts of North America amongst other places. A general, global "water crunch" is a distinct future threat and one negative result of human over-population [1].


See also


  1. ^ Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on The Right to Water, September 2007
  2. ^ UN 2003, para 8


  • Gleick, Peter, 1999. The Human Right to Water. Water Policy, Volume 5, pp. 487-503. (1999). [2]
  • Langford, Malcolm. "The United Nations Concept of Water as a Human Right: A New Paradigm for Old Problems?" Water Resources Development Vol. 21, No.2, 273-282, June 2005
  • United Nations. General Comment 15. 2003. "The Right to Water". The Economic and Social Council, E/C.12/2002/11. [3]

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