Sunday, August 08, 2010

UN vote on the right to water leads on to our human responsibilities

28 July 2010 – Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential to the full enjoyment of life and all other human rights, the General Assembly declared, voicing deep concern that almost 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water.

122 in favour, zero against, and 44 countries abstained, including the UK and its main ex-colonies - US, Canada, NZ & Australia.

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  states:
  • Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. 
It is no good having a legal right to life if you have no water, is it? Nor food?  Implicit within Article 3 is the right to water.  But these rights also imply responsibilities.

There is no sense in parachuting into the middle of the Sahara without water, and then using your satellite phone to insist that the FCO should provide you with water, on pain of being taken to court for breach of your human rights. If you are going to parachute into the middle of a waterless region, it is your responsibility to provide yourself with enough water to get you out again. I hope we can all agree on that.

In short, there are physical limitations on us. All of us. Even Libertarians.

Freshwater supplies are becoming scarcer. Many regions rely on groundwater, and wells are having to be dug ever deeper in some areas, because humans are drawing on a finite resource. We need to improve rainwater water harvesting, water management, water conservation, waterless toilets, and to plant forests.

Above all, we need to stop the exponential increase in the human population.

There is an irrational reluctance over this. The Libertarians scream "Fascism", and other people who should know better, (which group sadly includes the respectable George Monbiot) say it has nothing to do with population, and everything to do with consumption patterns.

It doesn't, and there is an inescapable logical proof of this. Consider a population who have the very best, most optimal, lowest ecological footprint imaginable, living on an island. They would at some stage have of absolute ineluctable unavoidable physical necessity at some stage be forced to stabilise their population.

So if we want to institute a moral or legal right to water, as an expression of Article 3, we also need a reciprocal responsibility to optimise our consumption of water, and to start on the path to global population stabilisation.

Ok? Simple. Logically inescapable. No argument or discussion necessary. Next!

Here is a link to the Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities.
And here is another one.

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