Not enforceable

Worldwide, around 880 million people have no access to clean water. The UN General Assembly has now recognized the right to clean drinking water as a human right by a large majority. However, the decision does not result in an enforceable right. The German Institute for Human Rights nevertheless welcomes the UN's move.

The director of the German Institute for Human Rights, Beate Rudolf, has welcomed the new human right to clean water as an important signal. The United Nations' decision to declare the right to clean water a human right is an important intermediate step on the way to acceptance of this right by all states, Rudolf said Thursday on Deutschlandradio Kultur. The water supply is of fundamental importance, because it is about the survival of people. They should no longer be endangered by contaminated drinking water and suffer diseases such as typhoid or diarrheal diseases."There has been a growing realization in recent years that without a right to water, without a right to sanitation, all other human rights cannot be realized," the human rights expert said. "For most developing countries, the realization of these two rights is necessary. In many parts of the world, people do not have access to clean drinking water and have to drink water from rivers into which untreated wastewater from latrines flows."The realization of the right to water is therefore a basic condition for the development of these countries.On the privatization of water utilities in many states, Rudolf said, "It is true that these rights do not prohibit privatizing these utilities. But they oblige states to monitor private companies in the event of privatization to ensure that all people have access to clean and also affordable water." Rudolf believes the new human right to water can also help resolve water conflicts between states peacefully.

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