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
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.