The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights recently agreed to designate water as a human right.
The committee's agreeing to an interpretation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights will oblige the covenant's 145 signatory countries to progressively ensure their populations have access to safe and secure drinking water and sanitation without discrimination, according to a Nov. 27 World Health Organization (WHO) press release.
"The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite to the realization of all other human rights," the committee stated in the release.
The new requirement of is a "major boost" in efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals of halving the number of people without access to water and sanitation by 2015," WHO Director-General Gro Brundtland said.
Approximately 1,100 million people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water and an estimated 2,400 million people do not have access to sanitation, according to the release.