Petition to make clean water a human right

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113 Responses to “Petition to make clean water a human right”

  1. ChinaShopBull says:

    Isn’t this already covered by article 25(1)?

    “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care…”

    I would certainly think that water would naturally be a part of an adequate standard of living.

  2. Cicada says:

    It works, though– despite millenia of attempts to convince people that all humans are basically equally intrinsically valuable, people still generally prefer the people who talk and act like they do to the people who don’t.
    Would you watch your best friend starve to death if it meant saving two people you didn’t know from death by starvation? How about your best friend’s girlfriend, if your friend puts in a good word for her?
    Closer seems to mean more valuable.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Libertarian: someone who believes money or other property supersedes life.

    If I am dying of thirst and you have water, I will go as far as I have to to get it (also coat, etc)

    From MY perspective, my life outstrips your luxuries for sure, and probably your life too. From YOUR perspective, you having a spare coat outstrips my life. Incidentally, it may comfort you to know that killing you will be hard work.

  4. Takuan says:

    surely you realize he meant the Hobbesian?

  5. Takuan says:

    it was right there dead center between the lobes.

  6. prunk says:

    Considering that the petition isn’t entirely enforceable in all areas of the world it’s not as if it’s a binding agreement. However it’s used a reference to what are considered basic rights, agreed upon by a large number of contributors. Adding a 31st article some 60 years after the initial creation automatically lessens the importance of the 31st article unless it’s put in place with a big disclaimer saying “this is important now.”

    The most substantial thing I can see coming out of this is maybe redirecting some funding to a couple NGOs to go out there and develop more pumps, filters and purification systems for developing worlds. It’s not going to solve everybody’s problems but at least it would solve some. The whole original 30 articles never solved all the problems in the world either but it’s still useful as a guideline.

    It’s been stated already though, the big problem isn’t the access to the water, it’s the quantity available. This bill is somewhat feasible now to enact but imagine years down the road where no action was taken early on and even the developed and richest worlds are unable to buy up foreign water. Then how do you fulfill this right?

  7. zuzu says:

    ah: “someones” water. I thirst. You have water. My thirst makes it “my” water by “right”.

    No, that’s called theft.

  8. Sister Y says:

    #61 “turn gray”?

  9. Trent Hawkins says:

    #6 – see, I don’t think fluoridated water would classify as “clean water”. You gotta define what clean water is before you guarantee it as a right.

    And if fluoridation is classified as “clean water” I would strongly oppose it. I will not have Commies sap my precious bodily fluids! ; )

  10. Anonymous says:

    I don’t know if this petition would affect this, but I know that in some poorer countries collecting rainwater is either illegal or the people collecting it are charged. So making water a right might not only affect water that can be considered someone’s property, but also free people up to get water however they can.

  11. Cicada says:

    @106- No, you’re not. Or, put another way, why do you have common cause with any other human being?

  12. jhhl says:

    Water is not a human right:

    1) it’s in no way confined to humans
    2) humans are 60-70% water anyway

    Access to clean water for all humans won’t help if it’s denied to the rest of the ecology.

    It also won’t help if it means polluting the air – or the soil – more to get that free access to clean water.

    So maybe this is not the document that needs to be amended.

    Something even more fundamental than human rights needs to be recognized here.

  13. zuzu says:

    Sister Y, old people.

    (The age of people on average is rising.)

    The problem we are about to face is “demographic winter,” not “overpopulation.” Our world is about to turn gray, and then be overrun.

    Overrun by those other people who aren’t part of the population? Overpopulation is a problem regardless of “ethnicity”.

    Contracting populations are healthy and good for technologically advanced societies; representative of the Kuznets curve, just as with pollution. (e.g. It increased hugely until the payoff allowed us to afford to decrease it back to starting levels.)

    Rich people don’t breed like rabbits. They’re too busy with diverse interests beyond drinking, fucking, and fighting, and they can afford contraceptives. (And can afford to be smart enough not to be taken in by religious bullshit against contraception.)

    The only people complaining about population contraction are industries reluctant to shift from “exploiting” ultra cheap labor (i.e. poor people) to buying the robots to replace them (once we’ve finally run out of poor people).

  14. slgalt says:

    Water is a necessity for life. Our survival and the survival of fellow human beings depend on it. It isn’t a commodity or a consumer item – it is a human right.

  15. arkizzle says:

    Well, Trent, that was my point exactly..

    Ripper: Water, that’s what I’m getting at, water. Mandrake, water is the source of all life. Seven-tenths of this earth’s surface is water. Why, do you realize that seventy percent of you is water?
    Mandrake: Uh, uh, Good Lord!
    Ripper: And as human beings, you and I need fresh, pure water to replenish our precious bodily fluids.
    Mandrake: Yes. (he begins to chuckle nervously)
    Ripper: Are you beginning to understand?
    Mandrake: Yes. (more laughter)
    Ripper: Mandrake. Mandrake, have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rain water, and only pure-grain alcohol?
    Mandrake: Well, it did occur to me, Jack, yes. Ripper: Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation. Fluoridation of water?
    Mandrake: Uh? Yes, I-I have heard of that, Jack, yes. Yes.
    Ripper: Well, do you know what it is?
    Mandrake: No, no I don’t know what it is, no.
    Ripper: Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous Communist plot we have ever had to face?

  16. arkizzle says:

    No, that’s called theft.

    Is that not the point?

  17. aj says:

    Sure, but isn’t this just a big campaign against having private companies run water supplies? No thanks to calling something a “human right” just to pursue a very narrow ideological battle.

  18. avidd says:

    How many of you people read the flippin’ petition before you commented? HYPERBOLE ALERT!!!

    The UDHR is unenforceable, by which I mean there is literally no enforcement mechanism built in except to shame countries that violate it. Adding to it is kind of pointless, we need to draft a new one with teeth.

  19. Mister Staal says:

    I believe the real problem is over-population, not scarcity of water. But that’s a problem no one seems to want to solve.

  20. cephalo786 says:

    Rights imply responsibilities. If you have a right to free speech, I have a responsibility not to censor you.

    If you have a right to water, I have a responsibility to… What exactly?

  21. kuocheng says:

    Rights aren’t “made”…

    Some claim that rights don’t make sense at all, which is certainly defensible. But even within rights-based moral theories, human rights simply are. They can be recognized, violated, exercised, waived, etc., but they cannot be created or destroyed because their existence is absolute, not conventional.

  22. Cicada says:

    @86- It would stand to reason that it’d be hard work. You’d be desperately thirsty and cold, for one thing. He’d be warm and well hydrated. And since food production does tend to follow water, he’d probably be better-fed, too. And his “tribe”, being well fed, would likely have had the luxury of spare time to research defense strategies and weaponry…
    He might consider giving you just enough water to keep you alive to spare himself the trouble of killing you. Try to be a good serf– bad serfs have more problems than thirst.

  23. Frank W says:

    @ Mister Staal

    I believe the real problem is over-population, not scarcity of water. But that’s a problem no one seems to want to solve.

    Do you have kids?

  24. HollywoodBob says:

    @Zuzu:
    The only people complaining about population contraction are industries reluctant to shift from “exploiting” ultra cheap labor (i.e. poor people) to buying the robots to replace them (once we’ve finally run out of poor people).

    But if they did that, what would all the not so smart people do to enrich society?

    In a cybernated society the labor will be done by robots, and people will do the academic work, so what do those people not smart enough for research, and not gifted enough for art, do to earn their way through the world?

  25. Jayel Aheram says:

    No, that’s called theft.

    Is that not the point?

    Of course it is. But think of the children!

  26. Naumadd says:

    It’s best not to go down this particular road of deciding fresh water to be an inalienable human right. It’s true, you need water to survive, however, you need food as well and, of course, air and land upon which to grow, raise and/or hunt that food. If water becomes an inalienable right, anyone who, at a whim, feels a need for a drink would, by consistent argument, be at liberty to come into your home to take it regardless of your wishes, regardless of the fact you may have need of it. So too, because food is absolutely essential to survive, their inalienable right to sustenance will make the argument for liberty to enter your home to take food, again, quite without regard to your own personal need of it.

    The argument for inalienable HUMAN rights to anything are the same for any form of life. Does a tree not also have an inalienable right to sole ownership of its life and to the air, water, sunlight, and sustenance it requires to continue living? How about a chicken? A cow? Mushrooms? Is there, in fact, an inherent right of a human being to survive over the life of another, or is it simply that one WISHES there to be a right and thus one creates a false notion of human preference in survival? If you argue that a human being has preference over a mushroom to live, aren’t the arguments for that preference fundamentally the same for preference of one human being over another? One can argue a human being must take other life in order to survive because a human has preference over that other life, however, because the human depends on that life to survive, doesn’t that create an inherent subordinance of the human life to the life upon which he or she depends? If a lifeform “higher” in the food chain decides it has superior preference of survival against all other life, isn’t the chain corrupted thus putting the survival of that lifeform with its alleged superior preference?

    There are no fundamental differences between arguments for inalienable right to potable water and arguments for an inalienable right to land, food, air, medical assistance, clothing, and on and on. Your need of a thing isn’t an automatic justification to take or receive it from another.

    No. You have an inalienable right to your own life and self-determination. You do not have a right to water, however, you do have the right to obtain if you are able. Water is an essential for the continuation of life, however, unlike the right to your own life, there is no and can be no inalienable right to it.

    The argument for an inalienable right to potable water is the same tired argument used by communists for an inalienable right to a job, to money, to property etc. one can insist on redistribution of wealth acquired or created by others. It is the argument that those who have not, will not, or cannot obtain or create wealth have an inalienable right to take or receive from those who have, are willing, and can. Those arguements have always been factually unsupportable and logically inconsistent … and always will be.

  27. Ito Kagehisa says:

    One has a right and a duty to defend one’s self and family (and property, at least when that property is necessary to support one’s family).

    These are the “natural rights” that spring from human morphology; legislation is not relevant. Most other rights are both derivative and lesser, and some so-called rights are just paper fantasies.

    I have water. My children need it. I have no choice but to defend it. You do not have water. You will try to kill me before you will let your children die of thirst. If there is enough to share, I will give you water in exchange for service or goods, and we will share until the water runs out. Then one of us will kill the other, and the children will drink his blood.

    This is resource allocation in the natural world. It is messy but it works to maintain the dynamic equilibrium that comprises a heathly ecosystem. When one acts to prevent the balancing of a dynamic equilibrium the consequences are frequently both more extreme and less desireable than maintaining balance.

  28. zuzu says:

    I believe the real problem is over-population, not scarcity of water. But that’s a problem no one seems to want to solve.

    I want to solve it. I support the childfree movement and have pushed for hormonal contraception to be sold over the counter (OTC) — as in available at gas stations and corner stores along with aspirin and caffeine pills, both of which are more risky than hormonal contraception.

    But the FDA is embroiled in politics; it doesn’t dispassionately asses risk purely from scientific data (i.e. positive science), but rather is gamed by politicians and social norms. Look at how long it took emergency contraception (which is just higher dose of hormonal contraception, like taking 3 pills at once) to be approved in the USA compared to Europe. Not that the FDA is alone is this problem; “the pill” wasn’t approved for legal sale in Japan until 1990.

    Anyway, the point is this: Children are really really expensive. Even half-assed parenting has a total cost of operations of half a million dollars according to USDA “Expenditures on Children by Families provides estimates of the cost of raising children from birth through age 17 for major budgetary components.”

    Although I’m not advocating any abridgment of reproductive rights (there’s that word again), human societies must quickly realize that offspring are not an entitlement either. Children are a luxury that few can truly afford.

  29. Takuan says:

    so, water now belongs to the lucky, is in the process of becoming the property of the wealthy and will end in the possession of the well-armed.

  30. bcsizemo says:

    I should just print this out and give it to my water company and tell them that I no longer plan on paying for water, since it’s my right…

    Of course it’s the city’s right to outlaw wells inside of city limits as well…

    No, I’m not sure I see it as a ‘right’.
    Much like I don’t understand the idea that the vast number of Arab states are built in the middle of a giant dessert. I’m not crying over you not having water, you live in a dessert, what did you expect?
    Much like if you build a house near a volcano, or in hurricane alley, or on the coast. Any naturally occurring event can kill you or at least destroy your possessions. I’m not saying people should have the right to live where they want, but at some point I look at them and go “If that’s what you want, then it’s fine by me, but I’m not helping you anymore.”

  31. Naumadd says:

    “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

    That is a clear statement of communism. Those who have not have an inalienable right to take or receive from those who do, regardless of the fact they have not earned it. Certainly, you have the right to attempt to create or earn what you need to survive, however, you have no inherent right to those things based on the mere fact of your need of them. Need does not create right to a thing. The only proper path to what one needs is to either create it oneself or to trade value for value in obtaining it. That I have two coats and you none, the fact of your need of a coat isn’t a justifiable claim on my extra coat. So it is with the claim of a right to water.

  32. Cicada says:

    “you live in a dessert, what did you expect?”

    Mousse. Custard. Marzipan. Frosting. Cream filling. Chocolate. Sprinkles.

  33. Bob says:

    There are people working to solve the population problem. The process is usually called war.

  34. zuzu says:

    I think the debate over natural and legal rights boils down to the difference between recognizing our physical nature and evolutionary psychology (e.g. why slavery violates “natural law“), and social construction (i.e. common law).

  35. Bionicrat2 says:

    If water became a right then where would we put all of the Native Americans? We count on desolate and arid land to fill that need!

  36. GeekMan says:

    @ Bob

    Murder and population control are not the same thing. I for one do not appreciate your sarcasm.

  37. zuzu says:

    In a cybernated society the labor will be done by robots, and people will do the academic work, so what do those people not smart enough for research, and not gifted enough for art, do to earn their way through the world?

    You’re assuming living off of renting one’s body as labor (whether a bricklayer or a doctor) remains a constant throughout history. But in a world simultaneously increasingly automated and decreasing in total population, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that the families which can afford to reproduce according to family planning will also be the ones increasingly able to live off of capital investments rather than from a profession. Wealthy families often afford to setup the slow-witted in their families with a trust fund as a form of private safety net. Another possibility may be an increase in reprogenetics to preclude the birth of stupid and uncreative (as vague as those terms are) in the first place. Hell, even maybe within a generation or two we’ll have matter compilers figured out and won’t need to worry about most material scarcity, just like on Star Trek.

  38. arkizzle says:

    If water becomes an inalienable right, anyone who, at a whim, feels a need for a drink would, by consistent argument, be at liberty to come into your home to take it regardless of your wishes,

    Strawman. You would just be under an onus to provide a glass of water for said person. No mention of trespass, or illegal entry.

    In fact, as I understand it, in Ireland the law says you (as a house holder) have to give someone a drink of water upon their asking for it. I may be completely wrong, but will be wrong along with many other people living in Ireland who believe the same thing. This is either true or a very pervasive urban myth. I can’t find any references on the Goog, but I’m sure some confirmation can be found one way or the other.

    The thing is, whether it is true or not, with all the people who believe it, people don’t go around demanding water of everyone else.

  39. dculberson says:

    Arkizzle and Trent H: Fluoridation? Really? You have a problem with fluoridation?

  40. Teller says:

    Drinking water is the next big battleground, no doubt. Oil’s a lounge act by comparison. By having the UN declare it a basic human right is a smart, but likely useless, tactic when it becomes the world’s most valuable, most fought-over commodity.

  41. Rindan says:

    I don’t think water needs to be made into a “human right”.

    First, it is already in the the deceleration of human rights. Article number 25 surely includes water.

    “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

    Second, someone should actually read the universal deceleration of human rights. No one follows the damn thing. Maybe we need to work on… you know, getting people to actually follow what is already written before slapping more stuff (already covered) into it.

    Third, it is a non-binding deceleration. It was passed through the general assembly and has all the force of an angry letter to North Korea telling them to stop being such ass holes.

    Finally, this is basically an attempt to draw attention to the problem, but it is the wrong way to go about it. While universal access to enough water to live is important, it isn’t so important that I want an already flimsy document to be further degraded by slapping a new article in each time the topic of the month wants attention.

  42. westcoaster says:

    From last week:

    “We should recognize that the right to water is a human right, and water cannot therefore be treated as a commodity that is bought and sold,” said United Nations General Assembly President d’Escoto Brockmann in his speech. “The right to water should unite us in building a new model of sustainable human development.”

    More here. http://tinyurl.com/6gtv8l

  43. Cragsavage says:

    Avidd @ 94 – Unfortunately you are right. The problem is, even if the UDHR had enforcement mechanisms built in would the UN have the power to follow through and enforce? Probably not.

    Cephalo786 @ 95 – being able to fit something into the ‘if you have a right to x, I have a responsibility to y’ format isn’t a litmus test for what is a right and what isn’t. If I have a right to gather dust, you have a responsibility not to dust me.

    Ito @ 96 and others previously – it’s pointless talking about rights in the state of nature when we’re not living in the state of nature. We’re living in civil society – different rights apply. My tiger’s name is Hobbes.

  44. arkizzle says:

    Need does not create right to a thing.

    No, governments do. Civilizations do.

    Also, Communism? Human Rights == Communism..? Huh?

    That I have two coats and you none, the fact of your need of a coat isn’t a justifiable claim on my extra coat.

    I don’t think anyone is talking about coats, or taking your coat. It’s about the natural resource; water.

    How about if I am dying. Right beside you. Of thirst. And you have a bucket of water. If you choose not to give it to me, and I die, when you could have given me a drink and saved my life.. are you guilty of anything? Morally? Legally?

  45. bardfinn says:

    ZuZu:

    Children aren’t a luxury; They are a necessity.

    None of us will live forever, and an insignificantly tiny proportion of those alive today will reach an age over ninety.

    The report you’re citing involves AVERAGE expenditures, including not just necessities but luxuries and optional spending. It doesn’t count that clothes can be handed down or bought at yard sale; It does not count that many people already have space available for raising a child in their home; It does not count bartered communal effort at child-raising and care. Certainly, people can /spend money/ on disposable diapers, or they can buy five packs of cloth diapers and wash them; They can spend money on transport “dedicated” to the child, or they could forgo a car altogether and use public transport and taxis and bicycles. The best public schools still need parent involvement, the best private schools as well.

    The report cites what people /have/ spent – not what people /must/ spend – to raise a child.

    Clean water is a /resource/. It is not a right. Clean water is a /necessity/. It is not a /right/.
    Clean water is a technologically and economically feasible /goal/ of human society at large.

    Rights involve the interaction between humans in a society; They do not involve human’s interaction with their environment. Demand clean water as a right, and you may as well stand in the gale to make the wind respect you.

  46. stygyan says:

    Huh.. I know access to clean water should be a human right… but shouldn’t we keep an eye of whether they assure the already existant ones?

    Because human rights are violated daily, you know.

  47. Takuan says:

    you believe in predestination?

  48. starfish and coffee says:

    This will become another sad example of the hollowing out of the concept of rights…

    In my part of the world there is a call for having children to become a right.. don’t get me started on how wrong that is.

  49. Ernunnos says:

    Just because it would be nice, or even humane, doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. And if you’re going to declare something a right without regard to whether or not it’s achievable, why be so stingy? Declare milk, honey, and sparkling wine a human right.

  50. Cragsavage says:

    All I can say is – it’s not looking too good for you…

  51. Takuan says:

    “Shortly after he recovered, he overstrained his voice while preaching which brought on a violent fit of coughing. He burst a blood-vessel in his lungs and his health steadily declined”

  52. Cicada says:

    Yes. Just like everything else.
    You can argue this is unjust, but as Chairman Mao put it, justice comes from the barrel of a gun.

  53. DGroenfeldt says:

    Water is a “right” because people need water to live, and living is already accepted (legally and morally) as a right. But let’s include NATURE in our picture as well. Nature also has the right to live, and water for nature is a huge and growing concern in the face of climate- development- and population- induced stress on water supplies.

    In my city of Santa Fe, New Mexico, residents have grown to accept the total de-watering of our river so they can enjoy the American Quality of Life. The mindset that puts lawns over rivers needs to transform into serious respect for nature, including respecting a river’s right to (some of) its own water. For details on the Santa Fe River, visit: http://www.santafewatershed.org

  54. Cragsavage says:

    Nothing like a bunch of people for whom clean water is constantly on tap dismissing the notion of clean water as a right.

  55. IWood says:

    #19 posted by kuocheng:

    Rights aren’t “made”…

    Some claim that rights don’t make sense at all, which is certainly defensible. But even within rights-based moral theories, human rights simply are. They can be recognized, violated, exercised, waived, etc., but they cannot be created or destroyed because their existence is absolute, not conventional.

    You might be interested in Alan Dershowitz’s Rights From Wrongs. It deals with the epistemic problems created in a secular culture by the claim that rights “simply are.”

  56. ab3a says:

    Full Disclosure: I work for a water company.

    Clean water is a matter of energy. Most of that energy is solar. It takes solar energy to evaporate water from the oceans, carry it up mountains and release it as clean snow or rain.

    It takes a lot of energy to move water too. Wanna know how much? Think of it as hydro-electric power BACKWARDS. We push hundreds of millions of gallons a day in to the distribution network. The water utility I work for is one of the top five energy consumers in the region.

    You can desalinate water. It is very energy intensive, but it is done where there are no other fresh water resources available.

    My point is that this is not about fresh water. This is about energy. We can and we do re-use the water that flows through our cities. And besides the physical infrastructure, the big ticket item is energy.

    So does this mean we have a right to energy? I’ll bet the OPEC countries would think this very, very funny; that is, until they realize that someone might actually be serious about this. Then they’ll realize it is only the UN and continue laughing until they bust a gut.

    Next thing you know, the UN will start thinking we have a right to food, money, transportation, and all the other things we need to support a city.

    The reality is that these things cost. Someone has to pay for it. If the UN is willing and able to foot that bill, I might sit up and take notice. Until then, this is just another proof (as if we needed one) that the UN is a useless mouth-piece for ignorance.

  57. Cragsavage says:

    My mistake: it’s not looking too good for me.

    Curse your tentacles.

  58. Cicada says:

    @#75- If you go out and buy a shiny new gadget when you could have sent the money to an organization which makes clean water for third worlders, are you guilty of anything? Morally? Legally?

  59. cephalo786 says:

    Cragsavage -
    No, it’s a test as to whether or not a proposed right has any real world meaning. If we lived in a world where gathering dust was an action with profound human and/or political consequences, a right to gather dust would be conceivable. And if it was deemed to be a right to gather dust, you would know that my right to gather dust precluded your desire to dust me, as real action.

    My question is not completely rhetorical. What am I required to do to observe a “right to water”? Do I need to build you a canal or a water purifying plant? Do I need to give my water to anyone who is thirsty before I can use it for washing? How far do I have to go to get you some water so as not to be violating your right? Should the water company be allowed to charge me the $15 or so a month they currently do for water? It can’t simply be that I have a responsibility not to take your water, as that would just make the water your property.

    I’m all for clean drinking water for everyone, but I’m not sure declaring it a right has any meaning.

  60. Cicada says:

    “Water is a “right” because people need water to live, and living is already accepted (legally and morally) as a right.”

    The problem there is one of phrasing– does that mean that you can’t kill other people, or that you must intervene to keep people alive where possible? The former interpretation’s fairly simple. If you follow the latter, then you’d have to defend making any frivolous purchase when someone somewhere was short of the necessities of life. Ditch the iPhone, send the money to the Sudan, etc.

  61. Frank W says:

    @ Bardfinn:

    Children aren’t a luxury; They are a necessity.

    True. But it isn’t exactly like our species isn’t reproducing anymore, is it?
    The human population can’t grow forever. There’s only one planet that will support only so many of us. We are overbearing on the ecosystem we’re part of. If we reach the high point sooner rather than later, we just may be around for millions of years to come.
    I’m a happy dad. Of one. I won’t have another kid.

  62. buddy66 says:

    If you want to be. I got it: Why not cover each other’s back? Get alot of shit done that way.

  63. JimXugle says:

    Any “right” that requires someone else to do work is not a right.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_rights

  64. Takuan says:

    declaring water a right means using denial of water as a weapon will make that act fall under sanctionable offences. Casus belli in fact.

  65. n5berm says:

    Clean water is neither a right nor a priviledge. It is a responsibility.
    There are very few places in the world that did not have clean water in sufficient quantities for human survival.
    The world has a universal responsibility to not pollute its and its neighbor’s or community’s water resource.
    There. Now go make that Article 31.

  66. buddy66 says:

    It’s true: Need does not equal Right. Never did. Rights are seized; they can also be lost. Needs never go away. The good news is there’s only a few of them. The bad news is that all wars are fought over them, regardless of what the warriors think or say.

    Water. Food. Shelter. Protection from enemies. Sex. Everything else is a Want. We’ve met our Needs for at least a hundred thousand years. Our Wants, not so much.

    Wants can and are attached to needs, but they are not fundamentally necessary. If Needs are not met we die. That’s why we kill for them.

    You realize, don’t you, Naumadd, that we lived in a state that can be called primitive communism for most of that hundred thousand years? You might say it’s a family tradition.

    Your debutante just knows what you need
    But I know what you want….

  67. happykittybunny says:

    The United Nations is composed of a large number of dictators. They already abuse the list of human rights as a means to harass the civilized countries. Libya at the head of the Human Rights comittee? Syria? North Korea.

    Give me a break.

  68. Zombie says:

    That potable water is so scarce is why I have a problem giving kids a garden hose to play with. How can you say its not a problem for your kid to waste a gallon (or several) of clean water when people are still dying in the world because they don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water?

  69. Avram says:

    Zuzu @21: Children are really really expensive. Even half-assed parenting has a total cost of operations of half a million dollars

    But on the other hand, how much wealth is generated by the average human being over the course of his or her lifespan?

    Children are a luxury that few can truly afford.

    Children are a source of labor and a retirement plan. In pre-modern societies, this is obvious: You own a farm, you marry and have kids, the kids are put to work on the farm at a fairly young age. When they get older, they start their own farms, or continue to work yours. When you’re too old to work, they support you.

    In modern societies, the process is more indirect, unless you have a family business. But it’s still the same process: Each new generation performs useful work that the whole society benefits from, and pays into Social Security or keeps the economy going that supports your 401k plan. (Except when the banks screw it all up.)

  70. Mister Staal says:

    @ Frank W: Nope, no kids of my own. When I’ve reached that point in my life, I intend to adopt. We don’t need more humans, but I’ll do my part to raise one in a stable environment.

  71. Takuan says:

    If a nation sets up massive desalinization plants on a tremendous scale and powers it with sloppy nuclear reactors that pile up long lived waste in mountains of unsecured dumps, do you have a right to wage war to stop them if they are creating ecological/climatic chaos?

  72. hobomike says:

    yowza!

  73. arkizzle says:

    Cicada??

    I made a plain point, asked a plain question. My question was directly analageous to the idea of water deprivation, en masse.

    We are all trying to figure out what this proposal could mean in real terms and I posed a straight forward question to see if there were lines that could be drawn – and maybe see at what point our need to possess water became depriving somone else of it. At what point possession becomes overwhelmed by the other person’s right to live..

    It was a simple question, you can answer it if you like.

  74. westcoaster says:

    To #35

    You say: “Full Disclosure: I work for a water company.”

    Care to identify which one?

  75. Cragsavage says:

    Then you have a problem with all positive rights?

    Positive rights are trickier, because they imply that action is necessary rather than inaction. Negative rights are much easier, because all I have to do to protect your negative rights is…well…nothing. To observe your freedom of speech I simply remain inactive when you talk. I don’t have to do anything.

    Positive rights do require action, but they are more about outlining the responsibilities of states to their people.

  76. knodi says:

    zombie, it’s all well and good to raise your kids to be aware of waste, but you might as well complain about rain. We will NEVER run out of water; this planet is mostly water. The conversation is really only about availability and potability, none of which is affected by kids playing with a garden hose.

  77. zuzu says:

    @78 Takuan

    No. You’re basically describing spillover effects / externalities.

    The non-aggression libertarian argument is that either you can “make it worth their while” to alter their behavior, or use your own actions to offset the effects you consider offensive. Even though they’re being a jackass, it’s up to you to make changes according to your subjective preferences.

    In your example, that probably means either selling them a better desalinization technology that they can afford, or doing your own geoengineering to reduce the unwanted effects.

  78. arkizzle says:

    DCulberson:

    Fluoridation? Really? You have a problem with fluoridation?

    Are you asking because you’ve never heard of the issue, or because you have and can’t believe I may be on the ‘other’ side?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opposition_to_water_fluoridation

    http://www.fluoridealert.org/

    http://www.fluoridation.com/

    http://www.qawf.org/

  79. buddy66 says:

    Takuan#78,

    Yes. Covered by #1 and #4 in Buddy’s “Needs of Humanity: things for which we go to war.”

  80. arkizzle says:

    Knodi, there is a point to be made, that the more processed-for-drinking water we use for other things, and perhaps waste, the more energy and expense we have to go through to make more.

  81. Cicada says:

    @#81 Consider, though, that wars themselves are not ecologically tidy.

    @79- The answer’s simple, but depends on your perspective. The traditionalist answer is, “If my tribe has water, the other tribe can go to hell”. The really universalist answer would be “My people can do without some comforts to give those people life”.
    Good luck selling the second position in a democracy– people will certainly give to charity…but will they give, en-masse, to the point that they’re not comfortable with their own lives any more? Or, rather, will they reelect a politician who made their lives and the lives of their children less rich in order to make someone else live?

  82. Takuan says:

    making water a right will now give the powerful the “right” to take what they need. They would anyway, but I can’t help but think that it wouldn’t be a priority as a right if only the poorest and weakest were still the thirsty.

  83. zuzu says:

    Please join us. Water is a right, not a privilege.

    Assuming potable water is naturally scarce, how will its apportionment be decided? Whose “right” to water will be violated?

    Water is a commodity. The problem we’re faced with is how to increase its availability.

  84. Takuan says:

    what is the best way to make war by poisoning watersheds? Radioactives or chemicals?

  85. Takuan says:

    the Neolithic Ethic

  86. Takuan says:

    Am I my brother’s keeper?

  87. RedMonkey says:

    I’m not even sure what this means; if I decide to build my house in the middle of the desert does this mean I can sue someone to build me a canal out to my house where I knew water supply would be difficult? What’s the point of this?

  88. Cicada says:

    @48- I’d think chemicals– just as much panic as radiation, but you can kill people a lot faster and hopefully have water for your own troops once it clears out.

    And when has messing with someone’s water not been casus belli? Consider the etymology of the word “rival”.

  89. flytch says:

    we do NOT need the right to clean water… what we need is simply the right to move freely upon the earth…

    I see this whole mess as population control…

  90. Ito Kagehisa says:

    Cicada, Mao said political power ultimately emanates from the barrel of a gun. Justice is not a linked attribute to political power, unfortunately.

    CraigSavage, I must respectfully disagree with your statement that “it’s pointless talking about rights in the state of nature when we’re not living in the state of nature. We’re living in civil society – different rights apply.”

    I live in this world, which is natural, and I have not transcended my flesh, nor do I wish to. This moment is what I know; this moment does not change when law or customs change. I am living in the state of nature.

    I like tigers.

  91. Takuan says:

    G. Harry Stine:
    “You stay in your village, and I will stay in mine.
    If your sheep come to eat our grass, we will kill you.
    We may kill you anyway to get your grass for our sheep if we run short.
    Anyone who tries to make us change is a witch and we will kill him.
    Stay out of our village!”23

  92. ab3a says:

    #108: Great! You have half of the issue. Now: Where does the energy required to clean up that water come from? Who pays for it?

    Water is a solvent. Its use is to carry away many toxic things from daily life. Even when you use it to slake your thirst, you don’t keep water. You sweat it, you urinate it, and you excrete it. On a larger scale, so does a city.

    It takes significant energy to clean this water up. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who works for a water utility, I think it would be great to have a universal responsibility of this sort. I know it would make my profession much more popular.

    And yet, it takes significant energy to do this. That energy has to come from somewhere. And furthermore, we can never clean the water to a pristine state. The 90/10 rule applies. The first 90 percent of filtration takes ten percent of the effort. The next 9 percent takes another order of magnitude of effort. And so on and so forth.

    Now we’re measuring contaminants in parts per trillion. And people are concerned about these extremely small contaminants.

    Where does the right to “clean” water end? How much is the responsibility of the person who collects the water? What do we do about natural contaminants such as arsenic?

    I’m sorry, there are too many technical details in this “right.” Many contaminants are nobody’s fault. I would much rather have rights deal with human to human sociology, not access to physical resources.

    Professional benefits notwithstanding, I think Article 31 is policy being made on a very poorly understood issue. There is a larger issue here that has nothing to do with water and everything to do with how human beings should act.

  93. insert says:

    What would this actually achieve? You can put a paragraph on a piece of paper talking about how everyone should have access to water, but you haven’t solved anything. All you’ve done is spilled some ink, ink you can’t drink.

    This is about as effective as “raising awareness” about Darfur. Everyone knows about it, but nothing has changed.

  94. Super Nate says:

    Watch out, this is the line of reasoning that turned into the Terri Schiavo travesty.

  95. Zombie says:

    Yes Knodi, but is raising your children to think that clean water is simply a commodity they can waste a good idea? Most kids don’t even know where they get clean water – I know this because I teach an elementary science program that focuses on the protection of the watershed and education about where we get water and where our waste water goes.

    How can anyone look at the mounting death toll from cholera in Zimbabwe and still feel okay about rearing children with a wasteful, selfish mindset? Nearly a 1,000 people dead from cholera – that means people are drinking water contaminated with human waste! It’s all well and jolly to be wasteful in a developed country where you don’t have to worry about dying from the water you drink. Go ahead and hand your kid a garden hose and tell them to go outside and have fun for an hour so you catch a moments peace and quiet. What do you have to worry about? Your kids, and you, are still going to be well and healthy when tomorrow comes, not dying of cholera by noon because they had a glass of water brimming with bacteria.

    I’ve had the (mis)fortune to spend a lot of time in a third world country. I know what not having clean water looks like, what it smells like and I know how sick it can make you firsthand.

  96. Jayel Aheram says:

    Sign me up.

    So, whose basic liberties do we need to violate to ensure this positive right is not unduly infringed? What tyrannical and statist laws do we need to enact to make sure that no person’s right to another person’s water is infringed upon?

    Very excited about the whole of this. We need more positive rights like this (right to water) that unfortunately violates private property rights. You know, like copyrights (another positive right).

  97. zikzak says:

    @zuzu: Your assumption largely misses the point. There are many situations in which potable water is not naturally scare, it’s simply distributed among people in a very unequal way.

    While it’s true that we need to figure out how to purify water more/better, that alone will not necessarily solve the problem of unequal access to clean water.

  98. Takuan says:

    ah: “someones” water. I thirst. You have water. My thirst makes it “my” water by “right”. It matters not it was your water before. Especially if you are not using it ALL. But you are wasting. etc. etc.

  99. GasLighter says:

    I don’t think we can expect this to end all deaths from the lack of clean drinking water, but it might at least prevent outrageous legislation such as the Bolivian Law 2029 which outlawed rainwater collection without a license.

  100. arkizzle says:

    Does it include freedom from fluoridation?

  101. t3knomanser says:

    I hate the idea of “fundamental rights”. There are no fundamental rights. Rights are a fiction created by societies to make sure society can function.

  102. Takuan says:

    oh yes, big water business would dearly love to seize all the water in the third world and sell it back to the people.

  103. arkizzle says:

    Consider the etymology of the word “rival”.

    ORIGIN late 16th cent.: from Latin rivalis, originally in the sense ‘person using the same stream as another,’ from rivus ‘stream.’

    Very interesting indeed, thanks for the tip.

  104. Ito Kagehisa says:

    To take the simple idea that one is affected by ones’ surroundings, and that therefore it is best to cultivate a harmony with neighboring organisms, and extend it to a cruel conceit that collectives have a right to crush individuals in the name of “civil society” seems unnecessary and foolish to me.

    But I shall not further attack that leviathan.

    Tigers are beautiful.

  105. zikzak says:

    Oops: scarce, not scare.

    Also, I guess you could say that potable water is always naturally scarce in the economic sense (there is not an infinite amount of it). I think the more important question is whether there’s enough to let everyone live a healthy life, and the answer in almost every situation is that there is. Some economic, political or social factor is usually all that’s preventing people from getting what they need.

  106. IWood says:

    The tragedy of this is that there is a multiplicity of cheap and effective methods to provide potable water to people who need it. The barriers are entirely human, not technological.

    That said, I have to agree with those who are questioning what specifying a “right” to potable water actually means. For example: adding “violation of the right to potable water” to the laundry list of charges against a corrupt government that is most likely already preventing the distribution of food, siphoning aid dollars into private bank accounts, and arming children to fight as soldiers in a genocidal war wouldn’t accomplish much.

    It seems to me that in order for rights to have meaning, they have to be more than a means to raise awareness.

  107. Takuan says:

    thalweg

  108. zikzak says:

    @t3knomanser: I agree that fundamental rights are a fiction created by society, but I don’t hate them. Why do you hate them?

  109. arkizzle says:

    Tak, I hope thalweg was buried somewhere inside your head, and didn’t just crop up in google :)

  110. arkizzle says:

    if I decide to build my house in the middle of the desert does this mean I can sue someone to build me a canal out to my house where I knew water supply would be difficult?

    A return question for you..

    Re: Article 17.1
    “Everyone has the right to own property..”

    If you don’t own property, can you sue someone until you do? Of course not.

    I don’t think the statement is about providing water, it is about making sure people aren’t deprived of water.

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