209461 Access to water: Is it a human right?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:42 AM

Kristy A. Siegel, MPH, CHES , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Foday Jaward, PhD , Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Water, the most basic need for survival, has not yet been recognized as a human right. Yet water is inherently linked to all other human rights: water is essential to the production of food and agriculture (right to adequate food), to ensure environmental hygiene and sanitation (right to health), for procuring livelihoods (right to adequate standard of living), etc. Many believe that like air, water is an implied human right so fundamental to life that no one can deny, and therefore does not warrant special recognition as a human right. But water is not a renewable resource and is growing in scarcity with each passing year worldwide. This paper will examine the issue of the right to water through an analysis of international treaties, declarations, and charters, including, but not limited to: the World Health Organization declaration, United Nations (UN) Charter, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Geneva Conventions and Protocols, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child, and UN Millennium Development Goals. The right to water will also be discussed using the rights-based approach, which empowers people to demand justice, not as a charity item but as an entitlement, and provides communities a moral basis to demand international assistance to achieve those rights. The explicit recognition of water as a human right would acknowledge the environmental dimension of existing human rights, thereby further safeguarding them.

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the presentation, the participants will be able to: 1) Define access to water, 2) List the twelve dimensions of the human right to water, 3) Discuss the right to water within the context of the various international treaties, declarations, and charters, as well as utilize the rights-based approach when discussing access to water.

Keywords: Water, Human Rights

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As part of my PhD studies and research project, I have examined water quality issues, including access to water in disaster and refugee situations. The right to water is an extension of my prior research and course work.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.