Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Water As A Fundamental Human Right

Children fetching water in a well,in a dry river bed in Adamawa
State,Nigeria. We need to extend some fundamental human rights
to them too.
In July this year,the United Nations passed a resolution to the effect that access to clean water,and sanitation,were now part of a person's fundamental human rights! It seems harmless enough,but the ramifications of that resolution are far reaching.

It is an attempt to bring clean water to about one billion people who currently are without,and sanitation to over two and a half billion others.

It looks like a last throw of the dice for the United Nations.After this resolution,which is binding on all members,including those who abstained from voting,the UN has no elbow room to maneuver.

It is because it understands that water,is not a luxury item! It is not like electricity,or even education,which,if a person is without,he could still survive,even if it is in a non luxurious state!

When I was growing up a while back, one phrase I constantly heard in different news items,was the phrase "by the year two thousand"!

We were told by numerous newscasters then,that there would be health for all by the year two thousand! We also heard of shelter for all by the year two thousand! To this illustrious list was added water for all by the year two thousand! I could not wait for the year two thousand to come. It seemed,to my myopic,innocent,and gullible mind then,that the water they also promised for all,would become a reality by the year two thousand.

The year two thousand assumed,to me,the same import as the second coming of Jesus Christ!

Alas! I was wrong! I did not know then,that it was because the world was grappling with problems it could not solve then,that it deferred the solving of these problems to the year two thousand.

The year two thousand has come,and the world,at least on my side of the globe,seems worse now,than it was then!

I believe that the United Nations has taken this uncommon step of making water a fundamental human right because the issue cannot be deferred to the next millenium! If we have to wait,half of the world would probably die of water borne diseases by then! I would not be surprised,if all the other goals that could not be achieved by the year two thousand,are also elevated to the same status as human rights!

When about eight percent of the world's population are in danger of dying from water borne diseases,it is a veritable call to arms.

Without water,a person will die! Without clean water,a person is exposed to all manner of harmful pathogens that would ultimately end that person's life.

So access to water has now been placed on the same pedestal as the traditional fundamental human rights! The traditional fundamental human rights,are those conditions the world has agreed to,as being necessary for the survival of life,or for the peaceable enjoyment of same! They are not a luxury,they are basic,germane, and a sine qua non for the sustenance of a civilized lifestyle.

Because of this,no government is permitted to deny her citizens any of these rights, under the guise of exercising her sovereign rights as a nation.

That is why, when a government,denies her citizens any of these rights,it is slapped with a charge of crimes against humanity. That is a crime against the fundamentals upon which all nations on earth have agreed that without these,life cannot be sustained! This is what is happening with Sudan,and the Darfur Region.

If we are to arrive at a conclusion from the foregoing,when a government provides water for her citizens,it has not done anything special! The people are under no obligation to acknowledge the provision.They do not need to show gratitude by giving one government official a chieftaincy title,or a new wife; it is just like the air we breathe,it is supposed to be freely given. No questions asked!

But that does not negate the obligation of the citizens to pay their taxes,or pay water rates where these exist! What the United Nations is now saying is that the water must be there for the people to access,and pay for,where they can afford it.And if ,per adventure,the people are too poor to pay for this water,it should still be provided for them!

In the light of all we have looked at, it means that where a government has the resources to provide good,clean,potable water,and is negligent in doing so,it is a crime against her people,a violation of their fundamental human rights,and a crime against humanity.

Water can no longer be used as a bargaining chip.The people do not need to vote for the government in power for them to have access to water,neither should it be used as a tool of coercion.

In closing,I would like all of us to look around us,and score our various levels of government on their performance in the discharging of this fundamental human right! Are we being led by a group of violators of human rights,or is it that the United Nations would hail them as defenders of same!


(If you want to read more then go to my blog at www.standupnigeria.blogspot.com)

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