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UNITED NATIONS — The UN General Assembly recognized access to clean water and sanitation as a human right. After more than 15 years of debate on the issue, 122 countries voted in favor of a compromise Bolivian resolution enshrining the right, while 41 abstained. The text “declares the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.” The resolution laments the fact that 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and that more 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation. It notes that roughly two million people die every year from diseases caused by unsafe water and sanitation, most of them small children. And it points to the pledge made by world leaders in 2000 as part of the poverty-reduction Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce by half, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation. The resolution urges states and international organizations to provide financial and technological assistance to help developing countries “scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable water and sanitation for all.”

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