By Maude Barlow
On July 28, 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a historic resolution recognizing the human rights to water and sanitation as “essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.” The resolution also called on States and international organizations to provide financial resources, capacity-building and technology transfers through international assistance and cooperation, especially to developing countries to help them provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all. Pablo Solón, then Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, introduced the motion. Two months later, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a second resolution, adding that the human rights to water and sanitation are derived from the right to an adequate standard of living as well as the right to life and human dignity. The Council affirmed that governments have the primary responsibility for the realization of these rights and recommended that they pay special attention to vulnerable and marginalized groups, adopt effective regulatory frameworks for all service providers, and ensure effective remedies for violations.
This paper examines what has transpired in the five years since these resolutions were adopted and what remains to be done.