General Comment No. 15 [pdf] is the authoritative interpretation of what the human right to water is under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.So what does GC15 (2003) say?
Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights. The Committee has been confronted continually with the widespread denial of the right to water in developing as well as developed countries. Over one billion persons lack access to a basic water supply, while several billion do not have access to adequate sanitation, which is the primary cause of water contamination and diseases linked to water. The continuing contamination, depletion and unequal distribution of water is exacerbating existing poverty. States parties have to adopt effective measures to realize, without discrimination, the right to water, as set out in this general comment.Fine words, but how do you get it implemented? How do you get "States parties" to listen?
Well, first you sing Kumbaya:
Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic good. The manner of the realization of the right to water must also be sustainable, ensuring that the right can be realized for present and future generationsUh, ok, "make it cultural" -- but make sure that your culture is a sustainable one. You know, the ones that take care of the helpless, like...
States parties should give special attention to those individuals and groups who have traditionally faced difficulties in exercising this right, including women, children, minority groups, indigenous peoples, refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, migrant workers, prisoners and detaineesOk, so we have to make sure that prisoners and refugees get water. Uh, fine. And how do we do that? By giving people water or...
The obligation to respect requires that States parties refrain from interfering directly or indirectly with the enjoyment of the right to water. The obligation includes, inter alia, refraining from engaging in any practice or activity that denies or limits equal access to adequate water; arbitrarily interfering with customary or traditional arrangements for water allocation; unlawfully diminishing or polluting water, for example through waste from State-owned facilities or through use and testing of weaponsWait a sec? We can't ruin water with weapons testing? Whose laundry list is this?
Ok, so let's get serious. How do we implement this? What's the plan of action?
The strategy and plan of action should be devised, and periodically reviewed, on the basis of a participatory and transparent process; it should include methods, such as right to water indicators and benchmarks, by which progress can be closely monitored; the process by which the strategy and plan of action are devised, as well as their content, shall give particular attention to all disadvantaged or marginalized groups;I get it. Hire bureaucrats. Like the ones who wrote this 18 page, 8,000 word manifesto.
But what if we don't? Are there any consequences for failure to comply with this?
To demonstrate compliance with their general and specific obligations, States parties must establish that they have taken the necessary and feasible steps towards the realization of the right to water. In accordance with international law, a failure to act in good faith to take such steps amounts to a violation of the right.And then what? The Swiss army invades? Seriously. That's where it stops. They never get to "...and then what?"
Bottom Line: I have never read such a load of shit (and I've read a LOT of shit!) This top-down, "if wishes were horses," sanctimonious, unrealistic, self-serving crap not only wastes time, but it distracts us from getting the job done. I don't know who paid for this meaningless drivel, but I sure hope that they got champagne and hookers on the side, cause it's a black-hole of nonsense. Can we PLEASE get a realistic plan, a plan that consists of more than 8,000 words -- 60 clauses! -- of "do what we tell you"! Damn.
* 007 must stop by every so often...