A Call to Action: The Moral Imperative for a Right to Water


Water supports all life on earth. One may therefore reasonably assume that a right to water exists. That assumption would be wrong. Although an implicit right to water has been relatively recently recognized, a universal right to water is yet to be expressly accorded recognition as a fundamental human right. Presently there is no binding international treaty that enshrines water as an enforceable, universal, legal right that requires states to provide their citizens with clean, safe and affordable water in addition to sanitation services.

With a water crisis of unimagined proportions looming in the very near future due to shrinking fresh water resources, this is an urgent call to the nations of the world to work together to ensure that a universal right to water is implemented. A water crisis - partly generated by global warming,1 evidence of which already exists, and partly by over-exploitation of water resources and water pollution - is predicted to result in several billion people being deprived of sufficient water to live.2 According to the World Bank, by 2035, three billion people who currently live in water stressed areas – in particular, in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia - will have no access to safe water, period, a grim prediction of truly staggering proportions.

Now – more than ever – there is an urgent moral imperative for the international community to recognize an express right to water.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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