The right to life, including the right to water, provides the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world. Water is necessary both to sustain life and to promote advancement, and must therefore be guaranteed for all peoples. Governments have the duty to protect and promote these rights.

Mission 2017 examined the Bonn Declaration on Global Water Security (2013), the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment (1972), the Berlin Conference (2004), the Human Right to Water and Sanitation (UN Resolution 64/292), the Right to Development (41/128, 54/175), the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), and the UN Charter (1945) to develop the following declarations.

We consider the following Declaration of the Right to Water as the foundation to solving the problem of global water security, and the measure against which progress will be gauged.

§1 – The right to water is not an absolute right

Water resources are part of the commons – they belong to all, and are absolutely owned by none. As a finite renewable resource, the right to use water is a usufructory right – one that gives the right to both use the water and to reap its fruits. It does not, however, give the right to alienation, misuse, or waste the water.

§2 – The human right to water

The right to water is a fundamental human right. With any finite resource comes the question of allocation. Water must first be allocated for basic human needs.

     2.1 The right to clean water

The water must be of quality that will not affect the health of the individual [1]. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides standards which quantify both safe drinking levels of contaminants and reasonable taste, color and odor standards [2].

     2.2 The right to a fair minimum amount of water

The average human needs to consume about three liters of water per day to sustain life [3]. Add to that water for food preparation, cooking, hygiene and sanitation and you reach the 50 liters per person, per day minimum recommended by the WHO [2]. We declare this as the absolute minimum.

     2.3 The right to accessible water

Water must also be accessible to people. Keeping travel distances below 500 meters to a water source [4], water collection times below 30 minutes [5], and the cost of water below 3% of annual income [6] ensures that other fundamental rights, such as the right to development, can be realized.

§3 – Rights and Responsibilities of Governments

     3.1 The right to development

The right to development is an inalienable human right as per UN Resolution 41/128. It recognizes both the right of people to develop and the rights of countries to advance. Countries hold this right, and it must be respected,

     3.2 The right to national sovereignty

This declaration shall not impugn on a state’s right to self-determination, including on water issues. Furthermore, in cases where the water system falls completely within national borders, the state holds the exclusive rights to use of the resource.

     3.3 The right to fair access

In cases where the water system falls across national boundaries, states hold the right to fair access as per Article 10 of the Berlin Rules on Water Resources.

     3.4 The responsibilities of a multinational world

In order to quantify 3.3 and in cases where development projects are planned, states shall consult with each other at an appropriate early stage.

     3.5 The responsibility to the people

In planning for water projects, states shall ensure that all persons likely to be affected are able to participate in the process. To do so, states shall provide access to relevant information with minimal difficulty.

§4 – Protecting the future

In order for these rights to be secured for the future, they need to be sustainably implemented and managed.

     4.1 The responsibility to protect the environment

Preserving the environment must be remembered while working towards these rights. We are dependent on the environment and must protect it.

     4.2 The responsibility to future generations

It is the responsibility of all people on earth to ensure that these rights will remain attainable to future generations.



1. Standardizing minimum mineral requirements (minerals critical in biochemical pathways) in water, while beneficial for health, is not necessarily a feasibly challenge in the short-term, nor a critical one given that these minerals can also be consumed from a well varied diet.

2. Domestic Water Quantity, Service Level and Health, WHO 2003,

3. Dietary Reference Intakes: Electrolytes and Water, Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, 2004,

4. The WHO recommends [4.1] travel distances of less than 1km one way. We recommend decreasing this to 500m to ensure that enough time is left in the day of water bearers to go to school (they are predominately children), work, and enjoy life [4.2].

4.1. The human right to water and sanitation, UN, 2010,

4.2. DFID Guidance Manual on Water Supply and Sanitation Programmes, Loughborough University, 1998,

5. As with [4], a maximum cap on the waiting time of 30 minutes by the WHO [4.1] allows for use of the day for other things than merely collecting the water required to sustain life [4.2]

6. As suggested by the UNDP (UN Development Program) [4.1] to ensure income can be spent on development and be invested, and not just used for critical life sustaining water.