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Bolivia president urges UN to declare access to clean water a basic human right

[JURIST] Bolivian President Evo Morales [BBC profile] on Monday called on the UN to declare access to safe drinking water a basic human right, marking World Water Day [official website]. While addressing the UN General Assembly's High Level Interactive Dialogue on Water, UN Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro [official profile] reiterated the importance [press release] of access to clean water resources as "vital for economic growth" and "central to public health, food security and stable societies," but fell short of declaring it a basic human right. Migiro also stressed that continuing climate change will only make the problem harder to address. Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) [official website] Irina Bokova also released a statement [press release, PDF] saying "water must be clean, it must stay clean and, most importantly, it must be accessible to all." Morales's administration has been working to increase access [NNN-Prensa Latina report] for Bolivian citizens to clean water since 2006, investing in new water and sewage systems throughout the country.

Morales has also been an advocate of other environmental reform. Disappointed in the outcome of the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) [official website] in Copenhagen, Denmark, Bolivia is hosting an international meeting on climate change [Guardian report] next month, one week after the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) [official website] is scheduled [JURIST report] to hold another round of formal climate talks. While no legally-binding agreement was reached [JURIST report] at the conclusion of the COP15 in December, 192 UN member countries agreed to "take note" [press release] of a non-binding Copenhagen Accord [text, PDF] developed by leaders from the US, China, India, Brazil, and South Africa in an effort to limit the global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius. The Copenhagen Green Climate Fund was also established to assist poor nations in reducing the effects of climate change [JURIST news archive]. The accord creates annexes by which countries will pledge to attain national emission reductions by 2020, but the pledges are not binding. Critics of the Copenhagen Accord have said it lacks the enforcement mechanisms needed to ensure compliance, and that it is unlikely to limit global temperature rise to the indicated levels.

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