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5 Geo. Int'l Envtl. L. Rev. 1 (1992-1993)
A Human Right to Water: Domestic and International Implications

handle is hein.journals/gintenlr5 and id is 7 raw text is: ARTICLES
A Human Right to Water: Domestic and
International Implications*
Much attention has been given to the right to health as a human right
and, as a means of implementing that entitlement, the right to food.' It
cannot be said that the idea of such rights is entirely unfounded, or that it
has only recently been conceived. Article 25 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights,' adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in
1948, provides, Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate
for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including
food. . ..-
Surprisingly little attention has been given, however, to the question of
whether there is a right to water, and, if so, what the contours of such a
right might be. Such a right could be envisaged as part and parcel of the
right to food or sustenance, the right to health or, most fundamentally, the
right to life. The right would have to be defined carefully, so as to take into
account all-too-prevalent instances of region-wide water shortages.
* Copyright Stephen C. McCaffrey, Georgetown International Environmental Law Review, and
Georgetown University. This article is based on a paper delivered at the First Inter-American Seminar
on Human Rights and the Environment, Brasilia, 4-7 March, 1992.
** Professor of Law, University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. Member, International
Law Commission of the United Nations (ILC), 1982-1991; Special Rapporteur for the ILC's draft
articles on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, 1985-1991.
1. See generally the essays in The Right to Health as a Human Right, Workshop, Hague Academy
of Int'l L., U.N. Univ., Recueil des Cours, 1978 (1979) [hereinafter The Right to Health]. With par-
ticular reference to the right to food, see J. P. Dobbert, Right to Food, in The Right to Health 184; P.
2. Declaration of Human Rights, G.A. Res. 217, U.N. Doc. A/64 (1948).
3. Id. at 76. Similar provisions in other human rights instruments are discussed in part 11, below.
4. But see Pierre-Marie Dupuy, Le Droit b la Santi et la Protection de l'Environnement in The
Right to Health, supra note 1, at 340, 358 (reviewing what Professor Dupuy characterizes as the three
generations of conventions concerning protection 6f fresh water quality).
5. See, e.g., New Mozambique Ordeal: Drought Comes Atop War, N.Y. TIMES, May 15, 1992, at
Al: From Namibia to Malawi and Gambia to South Africa, crops have withered and failed, rivers
have dried up and farmers have been wiped out, with no immediate hope of rain or recovery.

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