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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Water should be used as a “tool for peace,” says Türk

World Water Day

22 March 2024

Delivered by

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk


Video Statement

Colleagues, Friends,

Water is our life-force.

For each and every one of us, our communities, our planet.

Refreshing, nourishing, healing.

But for over 2 billion people, accessing safe and clean water is a struggle, if not an impossibility.

And, increasingly, water challenges are intensifying tension and conflict.

A threat to peace, water security risks worsening as the triple planetary crisis continues to unfold and poor management of water persists.

On World Water Day, let us resolve to see water, instead, as a tool for peace.

Reaffirming access to safe drinking water and sanitation as human rights.

And recognising the power that water has - as such a valued and shared need - to bring people together.

We must place human rights at the centre of water governance.

Ensuring the rights of all, including women and girls, marginalized groups, and water defenders.

Empowering people and communities so that their lived experiences and insights inform the ways in which water resources and ecosystems are managed.

Governments need to accelerate action on eliminating discrimination and inequalities when it comes to access to water and sanitation.

They must bring renewed energy to the task of building sustainable cooperation on water resources between communities and neighbours.

In conflicts, civilian water infrastructure and resources must be protected, without fail.

And we need to grasp just how crucial it is to the delicate process of peacebuilding that water governance structures are developed in an inclusive way and with equality at their core.

On World Water Day, I recognise with deep gratitude the efforts of all those working tirelessly to ensure the rights to water and sanitation are realized.

Let us move, together, forward to shape a future where water unites rather than divides us.