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Water for Health Declared A Human Right

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Water for Health Declared a Human Right

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 4, 2002 (ENS) - Safe and secure drinking water is a human right, a United Nations committee has declared formally for the first time. "Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic commodity," the committee said, siding with those who object to the privatization of water supplies.

The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights took the unprecedented step of agreeing on a General Comment on water as a human right, saying;Water is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realization of all other human rights;

A General Comment is an interpretation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This one was signed on November 27 as the Committee wound up its three week autumn session.

Although the Covenant does not expressly refer to the word "water," the committee determined that the right to water is "clearly implicit" in the rights contained in two sections of the Covenant.

Countries will be required to respect, protect and fulfill individuals rights to safe drinking water and sanitation," said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, quoting from the General Comment.

The General Comment specifically recognizes that water, like health, is an essential element for achieving other huater is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realization of all other human rights.

The General Comment means that the 145 countries which have ratified the Covenant "have a constant and continuing duty" to progressively ensure that everyone has access to safater as a human right, saying;Water is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realization of all other human rights;

A General Comment is an interpretation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This one was signed on November 27 as the Committee wound up its three week autumn session.

Although the Covenant does not expressly refer to the word "water," the committee determined that the right to water is "clearly implicit" in the rights contained in two sections of the Covenant.

Countries will be required to respect, protect and fulfill individuals rights to safe drinking water and sanitation," said World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, quoting from the General Comment.

The General Comment specifically recognizes that water, like health, is an essential element for achieving other huater is fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a healthy life in human dignity. It is a pre-requisite to the realization of all other human rights.

The General Comment means that the 145 countries which have ratified the Covenant "have a constant and continuing duty" to progressively ensure that everyone has access to safe and secure drinking water and sanitation facilities – equitably and without discrimination.

An estimated 1.1 billion of the world's people, roughly one in six, do not have access to clean drinking water, according to WHO figures. Sanitation progress has also been slow, and some 2.4 billion people, about one in every 2.5 individuals, still do not have access to a safe latrine.

Inadequate water and sanitation is "a major cause of poverty and the growing disparity between rich and poor," WHO said.

"The fact that water is now regarded as a basic human right will give all members of the Alliance an effective tool to make a real difference at country level, said Dr. Brundtland, a physician and former Norwegian prime minister.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization is an international coalition of partners. It includes national governments, international organizations such as the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank; philanthropic institutions, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program, and the Rockefeller Foundation; the private sector, represented by the Iman rights, such as the rights to adequate food and nutrition, housing and education.

"While those uses vary between cultures, an adequate amount of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration, te and secure drinking water and sanitation facilities – equitably and without discrimination.

An estimated 1.1 billion of the world's people, roughly one in six, do not have access to clean drinking water, according to WHO figures. Sanitation progress has also been slow, and some 2.4 billion people, about one in every 2.5 individuals, still do not have access to a safe latrine.

Inadequate water and sanitation is "a major cause of poverty and the growing disparity between rich and poor," WHO said.

"The fact that water is now regarded as a basic human right will give all members of the Alliance an effective tool to make a real difference at country level, said Dr. Brundtland, a physician and former Norwegian prime minister.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization is an international coalition of partners. It includes national governments, international organizations such as the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Health Organization, and the World Bank; philanthropic institutions, such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Children's Vaccine Program, and the Rockefeller Foundation; the private sector, represented by the Iman rights, such as the rights to adequate food and nutrition, housing and education.

"While those uses vary between cultures, an adequate amount of safe water is necessary to prevent death from dehydration, to reduce the risk of water related disease and to provide for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygienic requirements," the text states.

"The right to water contains both freedom and entitlements," the committee states in its Comment. "The freedoms include the right to maintain access to existing water supplies necessary for the right to water; and the right to be free from interference, such as the right to be free from arbitrary disconnections or contamination of water supplies."

Sufficient water should be obtained in a sustainable manner, the committee said, to ensure that "the right can be realized for present and future generations."

The formal statement of water and sanitation as a humanternational Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations; as well as research and public health institutions.

The General Comment provides a tool for civil society to hold governments accountable for ensuring equitable access to water. It is intended to focus attention and activities on the poor and vulnerable, the committee says.

The General Comment states, "The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses."

The world health agency associates 3.4 million deaths each year with inadequate water and sanitation. Diseases such as malao reduce the risk of water related disease and to provide for consumption, cooking, personal and domestic hygienic requirements," the text states.

"The right to water contains both freedom and entitlements," the committee states in its Comment. "The freedoms include the right to maintain access to existing water supplies necessary for the right to water; and the right to be free from interference, such as the right to be free from arbitrary disconnections or contamination of water supplies."

Sufficient water should be obtained in a sustainable manner, the committee said, to ensure that "the right can be realized for present and future generations."

The formal statement of water and sanitation as a humanternational Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations; as well as research and public health institutions.

The General Comment provides a tool for civil society to hold governments accountable for ensuring equitable access to water. It is intended to focus attention and activities on the poor and vulnerable, the committee says.

The General Comment states, "The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible, safe and acceptable water for personal and domestic uses."

The world health agency associates 3.4 million deaths each year with inadequate water and sanitation. Diseases such as malaria, cholera, dysentery, schistosomiasis, infectious hepatitis and diarrhoea are the killers.

Dr. Brundtland estimates that one third of the global burden of disease, in all age groups, can be attributed to environmental risk factors. Over 40 percent of this burden falls on children under five years of age, even though they make up only about 10 percent of the world's population. The director-general calls this area "an urgent priority for WHO's work."

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U.S. gets copy of Iraqi declaration

NBC, MSNBC AND NEWS SERVICES

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 9 — The United States took possession Monday of the Security Council’s copy of Saddam Hussein’s massive arms declaration, as U.N. experts began combing the 12,000-page dossier for clues about whether Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction. The Baghdad government insisted that the documentation proves the country’s assertions that it has no banned weaponry and has challenged the United States to prove otherwise.

REVERSING AN earlier decision, the U.N. Security Council agreed late Sunday to give the United States and the four other permanent council members — Britain, France, Russia and China — full copies of the declaration.

According to diplomatic sources, the about-turn followed a furious reaction in the White House to first reports that the United States would receive only an edited version of the dossier.

After a flurry of frantic diplomacy, the United States persuaded the Security Council president, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and the nuclear powers — who happen to be the permanent five members of the council — that it should have the full dossier as soon as possible.

The 10 non-permanent members, including Syria, will see only a censored version of the document once weapons inspectors have gone through the report and removed sensitive material — including possible instructions on bomb-making.

Angered by the deal cut over the weekend by Secretary of State Colin Powell, diplomats said, Syria planned to protest the arrangement during Security Council consultations Monday.

According to diplomatic sources, the United States is not expected to comment on the content until at least Tuesday.

Deputy Russian Ambassador Gennady Gatilov said the United States had taken the council’s lone copy to Washington, where it would make duplicates for distribution to the four other powerful council members.

One U.S. official described the CIA’s Langley, Va., campus outside Washington as “Kinko’s south.”

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Monday that the process would take some time, and he called on Washington and others to be patient with the inspectors.

“The inspectors will have to review them, analyze them and report to the council, and I think that’s going to take awhile,” Annan said.

U.S. RELUCTANT TO SHARE INFORMATION

Earlier, the International Atomic Energy Agency, one of the two groups mandated to inspect Iraq’s weapons arsenal, said it hoped that the Security Council members would provide any intelligence that could disprove Baghdad’s claim.

“We need some help here,” IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told NBC’s “Today” show.

Having taken a look at the 2,400 pages in which Iraq refers to nuclear weapons issues, Gwozdecky said Iraq “claims they have pursued no nuclear weapons actions not only in the last four years but since 1991.”

Despite being the most prominent source of allegations about Iraq’s weapons programs, the White House on Monday expressed concerns about sharing its own intelligence with the inspectors.

“We’re going to continue to work with the inspectors to help to get them the information so they can do their job,” said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. “Of course, at the same time, we want to make sure that sources and methods are not compromised in any information that could be conveyed to the inspectors.”

In an interview, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham said he didn’t believe the United States had provided much information to the inspectors.

“I don’t know why we’re being reticent. It may be that we feel that if we make too much of our intelligence information available early, it will give Saddam Hussein some clues to how we got that information, which he then could use to better hide, disguise what he has,” said Graham, D-Fla.

If administration officials have evidence, “they should provide such evidence to the United Nations, to the American people,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said at a Capitol Hill news conference of anti-war House Democrats.

The United States says Baghdad has continued to flout the 1991 prohibition and has threatened to wage war against Saddam unless Iraq fully disarms.

The IAEA is responsible for scrutinizing Iraq’s alleged nuclear program while the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is charged with inspecting its biological, chemical and ballistic missile program.

Under the cease-fire agreement signed after the Persian Gulf War, Iraq is prohibited from possessing or developing any weapons of mass destruction or having missiles with a range beyond 90 miles.

IRAQ’S CHALLENGE

On Sunday, a top science adviser to President Saddam Hussein said Iraq’s arms report documents Baghdad’s drive to develop a nuclear bomb until 1991. Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi said Iraq no longer has such ambitions.

“It’s for the IAEA to judge how close we were” to a nuvailable early, it will give Saddam Hussein some clues to how we got that information, which he then could use to better hide, disguise what he has,” said Graham, D-Fla.

If administration officials have evidence, “they should provide such evidence to the United Nations, to the American people,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, said at a Capitol Hill news conference of anti-war House Democrats.

The United States says Baghdad has continued to flout the 1991 prohibition and has threatened to wage war against Saddam unless Iraq fully disarms.

The IAEA is responsible for scrutinizing Iraq’s alleged nuclear program while the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) is charged with inspecting its biological, chemical and ballistic missile program.

Under the cease-fire agreement signed after the Persian Gulf War, Iraq is prohibited from possessing or developing any weapons of mass destruction or having missiles with a range beyond 90 miles.

IRAQ’S CHALLENGE

On Sunday, a top science adviser to President Saddam Hussein said Iraq’s arms report documents Baghdad’s drive to develop a nuclear bomb until 1991. Lt. Gen. Amer al-Saadi said Iraq no longer has such ambitions.

“It’s for the IAEA to judge how close we were” to a nuclear bomb, al-Saadi said.

Over the weekend, a military adviser to Saddam suggested that Iraq was close to building an atomic bomb a decade or so ago — a “wistful” admission of how much Iraq “yearned to get nuclear weapons,” as Fleischer described it, and proof that the United States is right to be skeptical of Iraqi denials now.

Saddam, the Iraqi president, insists his regime has no programs for developing banned nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

For his part, al-Saadi challenged the United States to present its evidence.

He criticized Washington’s rush to judge that Iraq has illegal weapons, saying U.S. officials should first read the arms dossier.

“A superpower should study and take its time in judging, especially since everyone is looking on as it prepares for a huge military campaign for an aggression against Iraq,” he said.

RETURN VISIT

Meantime in Iraq, U.N. arms inspectors paid a return visit Monday to the huge al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex, where scientists in the 1980s worked to produce the fissionable material for nuclear bombs.

The U.N. teams want to ensure that Iraqi specialists, in the four years since U.N. monitors were last in Iraq, have not returned to research in areas that would contribute to nuclear weapons-building. Recentclear bomb, al-Saadi said.

Over the weekend, a military adviser to Saddam suggested that Iraq was close to building an atomic bomb a decade or so ago — a “wistful” admission of how much Iraq “yearned to get nuclear weapons,” as Fleischer described it, and proof that the United States is right to be skeptical of Iraqi denials now.

Saddam, the Iraqi president, insists his regime has no programs for developing banned nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

For his part, al-Saadi challenged the United States to present its evidence.

He criticized Washington’s rush to judge that Iraq has illegal weapons, saying U.S. officials should first read the arms dossier.

“A superpower should study and take its time in judging, especially since everyone is looking on as it prepares for a huge military campaign for an aggression against Iraq,” he said.

RETURN VISIT

Meantime in Iraq, U.N. arms inspectors paid a return visit Monday to the huge al-Tuwaitha nuclear complex, where scientists in the 1980s worked to produce the fissionable material for nuclear bombs.

The U.N. teams want to ensure that Iraqi specialists, in the four years since U.N. monitors were last in Iraq, have not returned to research in areas that would contribute to nuclear weapons-building. Recent satellite photos show new construction at al-Tuwaitha, buildings whose purposes the U.N. investigators would want to check.

Last Wednesday, in their first visit to al-Tuwaitha in the 2-week-old new round of U.N. inspections, IAEA specialists spent five hours going “room to room,” team leader Jacques Baute reported afterward. But they needed more time to complete their inspection of the complex of more than 100 buildings, he said.

Many buildings at al-Tuwaitha, 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, were destroyed in heavy U.S. bombing in the 1991 Gulf War. Through the 1990s, it was scrutinized by U.N. nuclear agency inspectors under a postwar U.N. monitoring regime to ensure Iraq did not develop weapons of mass destruction.

Those inspections stopped in 1998 amid U.N.-Iraqi disputes. The current round began Nov. 27 under a new, tougher U.N. Security Council resolution.

From Baghdad Monday, a second U.N. team went to an undisclosed destination. They headed west, in the direction of an area of chemical plants and other facilities with past connections to Iraq’s old chemical and biological weapons programs.

REINFORCEMENTS, PROTESTS

The U.N. operation received reinforcements on Sunday, 25 new inspectors who doubled the staff, allowing a rapid expansion of field missions. Over the weekend, the U.N. teams als satellite photos show new construction at al-Tuwaitha, buildings whose purposes the U.N. investigators would want to check.

Last Wednesday, in their first visit to al-Tuwaitha in the 2-week-old new round of U.N. inspections, IAEA specialists spent five hours going “room to room,” team leader Jacques Baute reported afterward. But they needed more time to complete their inspection of the complex of more than 100 buildings, he said.

Many buildings at al-Tuwaitha, 15 miles southeast of Baghdad, were destroyed in heavy U.S. bombing in the 1991 Gulf War. Through the 1990s, it was scrutinized by U.N. nuclear agency inspectors under a postwar U.N. monitoring regime to ensure Iraq did not develop weapons of mass destruction.

Those inspections stopped in 1998 amid U.N.-Iraqi disputes. The current round began Nov. 27 under a new, tougher U.N. Security Council resolution.

From Baghdad Monday, a second U.N. team went to an undisclosed destination. They headed west, in the direction of an area of chemical plants and other facilities with past connections to Iraq’s old chemical and biological weapons programs.

REINFORCEMENTS, PROTESTS

The U.N. operation received reinforcements on Sunday, 25 new inspectors who doubled the staff, allowing a rapid expansion of field missions. Over the weekend, the U.N. teams also got the first of an expected eight helicopters that will enable them to range farther afield on their unannounced inspections.

Also on Monday, peace activists from the Chicago-based Iraq advocacy group Voices in the Wilderness gathered before U.N. offices in Baghdad in for a demonstration urging the United States and Iraq not to interfere in the U.N. weapons inspectors’ work.

The inspections process “is the main source of help right now to avoid war,” said Kathy Kelly, leader of the 17-member delegation from the United States and several other countries.

In Tokyo, the director of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said war can be avoided if continued inspections prove that Iraq poses no nuclear threat.

“If we succeed in providing a thorough analysis on the report and if we succeed in making sure Iraq is disarmed through an inspection, that I think could lead to the avoidance of a use of force,” ElBaradei said at a Tokyo conference on nuclear safeguards.

The head of the IAEA said his staff could have a report ready on the nuclear section of the dossier within 10 days but it could take longer to weed through, analyze and translate thousands of pages and CD-ROMs dealing with Iraq’s biological, chemical and missile programs.

On Sunday, Blix said his staff would “immediately take ao got the first of an expected eight helicopters that will enable them to range farther afield on their unannounced inspections.

Also on Monday, peace activists from the Chicago-based Iraq advocacy group Voices in the Wilderness gathered before U.N. offices in Baghdad in for a demonstration urging the United States and Iraq not to interfere in the U.N. weapons inspectors’ work.

The inspections process “is the main source of help right now to avoid war,” said Kathy Kelly, leader of the 17-member delegation from the United States and several other countries.

In Tokyo, the director of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said war can be avoided if continued inspections prove that Iraq poses no nuclear threat.

“If we succeed in providing a thorough analysis on the report and if we succeed in making sure Iraq is disarmed through an inspection, that I think could lead to the avoidance of a use of force,” ElBaradei said at a Tokyo conference on nuclear safeguards.

The head of the IAEA said his staff could have a report ready on the nuclear section of the dossier within 10 days but it could take longer to weed through, analyze and translate thousands of pages and CD-ROMs dealing with Iraq’s biological, chemical and missile programs.

On Sunday, Blix said his staff would “immediately take a look,” at the Iraqi material, make copies and discuss the report’s handling with the Security Council. He is expected to brief all 15 council members on Tuesday.

Under the terms of Security Council Resolution 1441, passed on Nov. 8, any false statements or omissions in the declaration, coupled with a failure by Iraq to comply with inspections, “shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations.”

Such a breach could be enough for Washington to argue that military action is the only way to force Iraq to comply with the resolution.

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