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Win! UN General Assembly passes historic Human Right to Water and Sanitation resolution

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 124 countries vote in its favour while 42 countries – including Canada – abstained.

This is truly an historic day,” added 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.”

The resolution recognizes “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a universal human right”. It also calls for increased financial, technological and capacity-building support to countries in the global South; to build the public services that will make this human right a reality.

Today, 1.2 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water, and 2.6 billion don’t have access to basic sanitation services. For more than a decade the water justice movement, has been calling for UN leadership on this critical issue. For years, the Canadian government has blocked efforts at the UN to recognize these services as basic human rights.

Adopting this resolution is a significant step towards improving the lives of millions of people around the globe,” said CUPE national president Paul Moist.