Since water has not been considered as a Human Right, it has been abused in ways similar to other natural resources. Water has been polluted by individuals, by factories, and by governments unwilling to regulate. All of these actions have been done without considering what kind of human impact they can have. If water is considered to be a right, then a misuse or abuse of the resource (like privatization or overconsumption) could be considered a Human Rights violation.
Non-profits, NGOs, and academics have been pushing for water rights to be labeled as Human Rights for years. Academic studies and publications have produced serious theories about the necessity of water being a Human Right. This has been framed as an issue of environmental justice – meaning that all people, not matter their class, gender, or race, deserve access to water. This is similar language to the language used to talk about Human Rights in general. The next step was to make it a legislated way of talking about water rights.
In July of 2010, the UN passes a non-binding resolution making the right to clean water and sanitation a human right. While it is a huge step forward, the resolution is non-binding, which means that it cannot hold a country accountable for not providing clean water and sanitation to its citizens. The US abstained from voting, saying “falls far short of enjoying the unanimous support of member states and may even undermine the work underway in Geneva.”
The US abstained from the vote on declaring water as a human right. This means that there is still a lot of work to be done to create a binding resolution in the UN that ensure water for everyone. To follow the progress on water rights, check out Blue Planet Project at www.blueprojectplanet.net.
What you can do
- Show a movie discussing the issue. Check out our film library for a list of free films you can borrow from AIDemocracy. Films come with discussion guides and free shipping. It couldn’t be any easier!
- Organize an event on your campus. Bring in a speaker. Organize a debate. Stand up and demand change. Check out our event database for some great ideas to get you started.
- Request a mini-grant to make your film or event a success. We provide small grants to help pay for materials, food and speakers. Contact us to discuss.
- Speak out to the network. Write a blog for our site. Post something on our Facebook group. Share photos or video with us on YouTube. Share your opinions with other concerned students like you. Here’s how to submit materials.
- Ask for advice and support. Not sure how to get started? Need to talk through ideas for your event? AIDemocracy staff and student leaders are here to help
- And more…