41 Countries that Oppose Making Water a Human Right

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These are the 41 countries that abstained in the July 28 UN General Assembly vote on Bolivia’s resolution to recognize access to water and sanitation as basic human rights.

Rather than honestly vote “no,” they abstained to avoid being labelled as opponents of access to water, but many made statements that reveal their hostility to the very idea of recognizing water as a human right. Among others:

Canada complained that the resolution “appeared to determine that there was indeed a right without setting out its scope.”

The UK said “there was no sufficient legal basis for declaring or recognizing water or sanitation as freestanding human rights, nor was there evidence that they existed in customary law.”

The U.S. said “there was no ‘right to water and sanitation’ in an international legal sense, as described by the resolution.”

Australia “had reservations about declaring new human rights in a General Assembly resolution.”

The abstainers:

  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Botswana
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • Greece
  • Guyana
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Latvia
  • Lesotho
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Poland
  • Republic of Korea
  • Republic of Moldova
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Sweden
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • United States
  • Zambia