UNITED NATIONS E Economic and Social Council Distr. GENERAL E/C.12/2002/11 20 January 2003 Original: ENGLISH COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS Twenty-ninth session Geneva, 11-29 November 2002 Agenda item 3 SUBSTANTIVE ISSUES ARISING IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS General Comment No. 15 (2002) The right to water (arts. 11 and 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) I. INTRODUCTION 1. 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.1 The 1 In 2000, the World Health Organization estimated that 1.1 billion persons did not have access to an improved water supply (80 per cent of them rural dwellers) able to provide at least 20 litres of safe water per person a day; 2.4 billion persons were estimated to be without sanitation. (See WHO, The Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment 2000, Geneva, 2000, p.1.) Further, 2.3 billion persons each year suffer from diseases linked to water: see United Nations, Commission on Sustainable Development, Comprehensive Assessment of the Freshwater Resources of the World, New York, 1997, p. 39. GE.03-40229

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