"The human right to drinking water is fundamental to life and health. Sufficient and safe drinking water is a precondition for the realization of human rights."
— United Nations 'General Comment' on the Right to Water.On November 27, 2002, water was formally recognized as a human right for the first time when the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted the ‘General Comment’ on the right to water, and described the State’s legal responsibility in fulfilling that right.
"The simple fact is, this model of privatization doesn’t work. You cannot marry the profit motive to something like water or air which people need to survive. We have to take this notion of fresh water out of the market place and say that it belongs to the earth, it belongs to all species, it belongs to future generations, and no one has the right to commodify it for personal gain.
We believe that water is a lifeline and we should have an international convention that declares water as a fundamental human right and that everyone on earth should have the right to enough to
— Maude Barlow, CBC Interview, March 2004
Declarations on the Right to Water
Citizens and NGO’s from all over the world have begun to formally declare that "Water is a Human Right." These declarations refer to principles and proposals for managing and sharing water as a human right, a public trust and a commons and stand diametrically opposed to managing water as a "commodity" to be sold for private profit.
The following are excerpts and links to some of these declarations:
 THE WATER MANIFESTO: The right to life The Global Committee for the Water Contract
Lisbon, Valencia, Brussels, 1998
"We come from Africa, Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe. We gathered together in l998* with no other legitimacy or representativeness than that of being citizens concerned by the fact that 1.4 billion of the planet’s 5.8 billion inhabitants do not have access to drinking water, the fundamental source of life. This fact is intolerable. Now, the risk is great that in the year 2020 when the world population reaches around S billion human beings, the number of people without access to drinking water will increase to more than 3 billion. This is unacceptable. We can and must prevent the unacceptable becoming possible. How?
"We think that we can do this by applying the principles and rules outlined below: ..[ ].."
 COCHABAMBA DECLARATION
On December 8, 2000 several hundred people gathered in Cochabamba, Bolivia for a seminar on the global pressure to turn water over to private water corporations. They were joined by an international delegation. The following declaration was adopted by the gathering, in order to capture the essence of the struggle by communities around the world.
"Here, in this city which has been an inspiration to the world for its retaking of that right through civil action, courage and sacrifice standing as heroes and heroines against corporate, institutional and governmental abuse, and trade agreements which destroy that right, in use of our freedom and dignity, we declare the following:
"For the right to life, for the respect of nature and the uses and traditions of our ancestors and our peoples, for all time the following shall be declared as inviolable rights with regard to the uses of water given us by the earth:
Water belongs to the earth and all species and is sacred to life, therefore, the world's water must be conserved, reclaimed and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected.
Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of government, therefore, it should not be commodified, privatized or traded for commercial purposes. These rights must be enshrined at all levels of government. In particular, an international treaty must ensure these principles are noncontrovertable.
Water is best protected by local communities and citizens who must be respected as equal partners with governments in the protection and regulation of water. Peoples of the earth are the only vehicle to promote earth democracy and save water."
 THE ACCRA DECLARATION ON THE RIGHT TO WATER 19th May, 2001
At the end of 4 days of debate during the National Forum on Water Privatization in Accra, Ghana, which took place between the 16-19th of May, we the undersigned declare as follows:
"…We are united by the following common principles, beliefs and values:
That water is a fundamental human right, essential to human life to which every person, rich or poor, man or woman, child or adult is entitled.
That water is not and should not be a common commodity to be bought and sold in the market place as an economic good.
Water is a natural resource that is part of our common heritage to be used judiciously and preserved for the common good of our societies and the natural environment today and in the future.
Water is an increasingly scarce natural resource, and as a result crucial to the securities of our societies and sovereignty of our country. For this reason alone, its ownership, control, delivery and management belong in the public domain today and tomorrow…."
 TREATY INITIATIVE TO SHARE AND PROTECT THE GLOBAL WATER COMMONS
July 14th, 2001
The Treaty Initiative by the Blue Planet Project To Share And Protect
The Global Water Commons
Adopted July 14th 2001
"We proclaim these truths to be universal and indivisible:
"That the intrinsic value of the Earth’s fresh water precedes its utility and commercial value, and therefore must be respected and safeguarded by all political, commercial and social institutions,
That the Earth’s fresh water belongs to the earth and all species and therefore, must not be treated as a private commodity to be bought, sold and traded for profit, That the global fresh water supply is a shared legacy, a public trust and a fundamental human right and, therefore, a collective
:And, Whereas …….. ..[ ].."
 THE U.S. WATER CONTRACT
US Network to Keep Water as a Pubic Trust
The U.S. Water Contract embodies the underlying principles of the Treaty Initiative by the Blue Planet Project To Share And Protect The Global Water Commons
 INDIGENOUS PEOPLES KYOTO WATER DECLARATION Third World Water Forum, Kyoto, Japan March 2003
This Declaration sets out 39 points organized under the following headings: Relationship to Water; Conditions of Our Waters; Right to Water and Self Determination; Traditional Knowledge; Consultation; Plan of Action and begins
"1. We, the Indigenous Peoples from all parts of the world assembled here, reaffirm our relationship to Mother Earth and responsibility to future generations to raise our voices in solidarity to speak for the protection of water. We were placed in a sacred manner on this earth, each in our own sacred and traditional lands and territories to care for all of creation and to care for water. "
Among their demands are the following:
"25. We demand that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), regional banks like the Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, stop the imposition of water privatization or ‘full cost recovery’ as a condition for new loans and renewal of loans of developing countries.
26. We ask the European Union to stop championing the liberalization of water services in the General Agreement on Services (GATS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is not consistent with the European Commission’s policy on Indigenous Peoples and development. We will not support any policy or proposal coming from the WTO or regional trade agreements like the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement, Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), on water privatization and liberalization and we commit ourselves to fight against such agreements and proposals."
 KYOTO STATEMENT OF WATER ACTIVISTS
WATER IS LIFE -A CIVIL SOCIETY WORLD WATER VISION FOR ACTION
Sierra Club was one of 225 public interest organizations from around the world that released a declaration in Kyoto at the 3rd World Water Forum setting forth principles for global water policy.
"Water, as a public trust and an inalienable human right, must be controlled by the peoples and communities that rely on it for their lives and livelihoods. The management of water services must not only remain in public hands, but must be revitalized and strengthened to make community and worker participation central in order to democratize decision-making processes and ensure transparency and accountability. This participation must be extended to the state, regional, and international level in all decisions pertaining to water resources. Furthermore, all water resource development projects must be based on respect for the rights of affected communities and
must provide full and meaningful participation in decision-making.
"Finally, we proclaim that the management and protection of the world’s water resources must absolutely be based on the principles of justice, solidarity, reciprocity, equity, diversity, and sustainability, because water is a human right. ..[ ].." http://www.blueplanetproject.net/cms_publications/12.pdf
UN International Year of Fresh Water
"The General Comment on the right to water, adopted by the Convenant on Economic and Cultural Rights (CESCR) in November 2002, is a milestone in the history of human rights. For the first time water is explicitly recognised as a fundamental human right and the 145 countries which have ratified the International CESCR will now be compelled to progressively ensure that everyone has access to safe and secure drinking water, equitably without discrimination.
"The General Comment states that: "the human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient; affordable; physically accessible; safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses". It required governments to adopt national strategies and plans of action which will allow them to "move expeditiously and effectively towards the full realisation of the right to water". These strategies should
be based on human rights law and principles
cover all aspects of the right to water and the corresponding obligations of countries
define clear objectives
set targets or goals to be achieved and the time-frame for their achievement
and formulate adequate policies and corresponding indicators.
"Generally, governmental obligations towards the right to drinking water under human rights law broadly fall under the principles: respects, protect and fulfil. The obligation to respect the right requires Parties to the Covenant to refrain from engaging in any conduct that interferes with the enjoyment of the right, such as practices which, for example, deny equal access to adequate drinking water or unlawfully pollute water through waste from state-owned facilities. Parties are obligated to protect human rights by preventing third parties from interfering in any way with the enjoyment of the right to drinking water. The obligation to fulfil requires Parties to adopt the necessary measures directed towards the full realisation of the right to drinking water.
"The General Comment is important because is provides a toll for civil society to hold governments accountable for ensuring equitable access to water. It also provides a framework to assist governments in establishing effective policies and strategies that yield real benefits for health and society. An important aspect of the value it provides is in focusing attention and activities on those most adversely affected including the poor and vulnerable."
"With prepaid meters, families are forced to decrease their consumption of water, use untreated water, and to make difficult trade-offs between water or food, medicine, school fees, transportation and other essential goods and services. As a result, families live on less than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended minimum water consumption for life of at least 25 litres of water per day. Often families use untreated water and rates of water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery and other diarrhoeal diseases increase. The WHO argues that 100 litres per person per day are needed in order to sustain human development. ..[ ]..
"The World Bank argues that prepaid water meters will increase cost- recovery and accelerate privatization. Evidence from water privatization cases around the world has shown that the poor lose out when water management is privatized. In most cases, water privatization raises water rates for consumers, burdens the public with new debt, decreases accountability to the local population,
increases environmental problems, and doesn’t deliver on the promises of greater efficiency, or expansion and rehabilitation of the water infrastructure. DEMAND A REAL SOLUTION
The Human Right to Water
By Peter Gleick,
Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security.
"More than one billion people in the developing world lack access to safe drinking water and 10,000 to 20,000 people die every day from preventable, water-related disease. The Human Right to Water argues that access to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right supported by international law, declarations, and state practices. This article has been posted with permission from the journal of Water Policy."
The Battle for Water by Tony Clarke and Maude Barlow
Clarke and Barlow discuss three main principles underlying solutions to the world water crisis: * Water conservation * Water is a human right and * Water democracy.
"Our local actions in seeking alternatives to water privatization should be informed by three global principles.  One is water conservation. We cannot kid ourselves about water scarcity. Water may be abundant in one place, but it’s scarce in others. Water conservation must be a top priority.
 The second principle is that water is a fundamental human right. People need water to live. Water must be provided equitably to all people and not on the basis of the ability to pay.
 The third principle is water democracy. We cannot leave the management of our most precious resource in the hands of bureaucrats in government or the private corporations, whether or not they are well intentioned.
We, the people, must preserve this special trust, we must fight for it, and we must take our proper role and demand water democracy. " http://www.yesmagazine.org/28water/barlow.htm
Privatizing Water Supplies Punishes the World's Poor
Western Catholic Reporter, Week of November 3, 2003 By RAMON GONZALEZ
"(Clean) water is the essence of life, yet a whole lot of people, especially in the developing world, are being deprived of it," laments Bob Schmidt. Schmidt is animator for the Alberta chapter of the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace [CCODP].
He places the blame squarely on the privatization of water delivery, which increases the cost of water without satisfying the thirst of the world’s poorest people. He says millions of poor people find the tap turned off because they cannot pay their water bill. So in desperation, they turn to unsafe water sources.
"Now, the CCODP and its global partners in the Third World are working to raise awareness about the value of water and why access to it is a treasured human right.
"The organization has just made water the focus of its education and action campaigns for the next three years. Water: Life Before Profits is the theme of the campaign, which challenges the right of corporations to privatize and control water, a basic element essential for life.
The Human Right to Water: Necessity for Action and Discourse
by Dr. D Roy Laifungbam, Posted on December 12 2003
"Access to a basic water requirement is a fundamental human right implicitly supported by international law, declarations, and State practice. Arguably, this right to water is even more basic and vital than some of the more explicit human rights already acknowledged by the international community, as can be seen by its recognition in many local customary laws, traditions or religious canon. ..[ ]..
"... it is clear that "solving" the problem of equity in safe drinking water distribution is not simply a matter of building a wealthier country and "defeating poverty," with the assumption being this will ensure full coverage. Rather, it is more about building an ethic and changing frames in a way that respects concepts such as conservation, indigenous rights, and the importance of sustaining and sharing our "common" intergenerational water resources. At the heart of the case for a "human right to water" is the demand for not just action alone, but discourse in which equity is the core value. " http://www.jubileesouth.org/news/EpZyVVlyFygMevRBey.shtml