Honorable CHAIRS, fellow delegates, and members of the United Nations, Water is essential to life and, in practice, that means access to clean water is crucial to a given society and its people. Unbeknownst to many, however, is that around 844 million people live without access to safe water.
5 2.1billion people lack access to it, and 4.5 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services.6 As mentioned in the Chair Report, around 1.2 billion people are under “water stress” (a term used to describe a situation where demand for water exceeds supply).
7 These numbers offer a glimpse of just how inaccessible clean water is, and they remind us of how much philanthropic work remains to make water truly available. Another aspect of this issue is that water inaccessibility leads to other socioeconomic problems. For example, it poses a variety of public hea1th risks. 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet which results in 1 million people dying because of hygiene related diseases every 5 See in general Water.org, an NGO founded by Gary White and actor and producer Matt Damon. 6 See in general United Nations, Home, Global Issues, Water. Data reported by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
7 HRC, Chair Report, Agenda B, Status Quo and Key Terms. year. It also stems conflicts among communities or countries, such as those between Turkey at the upper stream and Syria and Iraq at the downstream of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, or tensions over rivers that run cross-border in the Jammu and Kashmir region from China, India to Pakistan.
8 In short, the lack of sanitary or reliable water supply presents numerous policy obstacles that go beyond humanitarian concerns. And it is under this context the Human Rights Council has been asked to review the overall situation related to inadequate water supply and offer policy recommendations from a human rights perspective. The United States has a keen interest in this Agenda because it faces its own water shortage problems as drought, flooding, and climate change further restrict America’s water supply.9 In 2014-15, California required its cities and residences to reduce the amount of water they use by 25 percent,10 a groundbreaking mandate from the Governor’s office to limit water use for the first time. Furthermore, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 40 out of 50 states in the U.S.
are expected to face some kind of water shortage in the next 10 years,11 so federal lawmakers are current1y working to address this issue by authorizing various infrastructural projects throughout the country. On a national level, this Government uses its oversight power under the Safe Drinking Water Act and various funds and technical assistance to help states acquire adequate water supplies.12 And on the international level, it is working with partner countries and key stakeholders through the State Department and USAID to achieve a water-secure world 8 Kreamer, David K.
, ‘The Past, Present, and Future of Water Conflict and International Security,’ The Threat of Transboundary Surface Water Disputes, Dec. 2012, Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education. 9 Kincaid, Ellie, ‘California isn’t the only state with water problems,’Apr. 21, 2015, Business Insider. 10 California Executive Orders B-26-14, B-28-14, B-29-15, B-36-15, and B-37 -16.
11 See again Kincaid, Ellie, ‘California isn’t the only state with water problems,’ Apr. 21, 2015, Business Insider. 12 Ferris.
Sarah and Sullivan. Peter ‘Clean water crisis threatens US,’ Apr. 25, 2016, The Hill. under the U.S.
Global Water Strategy, 13 and every year gives away approximately $500 million towards water-related programming in more than 54 countries (2015).14 Although water supply is not necessarily a human rights issue in the United States, this Government recognizes that it is or could be for many other countries and is devoted to ensuring that sanitary and reliable water supply exists for everyone across the world. And as an extension of that vision, the United States hopes the Committee will focus on the following issues throughout the Conference: • In 2010, the General Assembly, through resolution 64/292, adopted resolution A164/L.63/REV.
1 prepared by this Council that recognized ACCESS TO CLEAN WATER AND SANITATION as a human right. Along with 41 countries, this Government abstained from voting because the right to water and sanitation was described in a way not reflected in existing international law.15 The United States hopes this Council will apportion some time discussing the legal implications of a declared right to water in order to alleviate concerns of those States-including this Government-that have yet to fullyembrace the legal notion of a right to water. • It has been 8 years since the Human Rights Council last adopted a resolution related to water, and the international community has generally lost interest in collectively financing relevant infrastructural and technology transfer projects in places under high water stress levels.
In the absence of a COMPREHENSlVE UNITED NATIONS FRAMEWORK for sanitary and reliable water supply, Member States have retreated to relying on their own water aid initiatives with different priorities, and the United States believes this is ineffective and could be cost1y. In fact, there are many countries that do not have such initiatives at all. This must be fixed. • Furthermore, the United States believes more policy communications and discussions are needed between developing countries (with insufficient water supplies) and developed countries. As mentioned in the Chair Report, developing countries, especially those in the African region, face water crises, but their causes vary.
16 This illustrates THE NEED FOR A DISTINCT PLATFORM where countries can rigorously debate about water policies and relevant aids that meaningfully take into account each country’s water situation. “Water may be the most important issue we face for the next generation.”17 The challenges presented by the lack of sanitary and reliable water supply across the world will continue into the foreseeable future, and the United States hopes this Conference will become a historical point for the international community to further people’s access to clean water.