Human Right to water in danger

Women fetching water from reservoir
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March 21, 2012 - UK, Denmark (current chair of the EU), Canada and New Zealand tried dismantling the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation

 

The formal recognition of the right to safe and clean drinking water by General Assembly UN (July 2010) and the UN CESCR Statement on the Right to Sanitation (Nov 2010) will be ineffective if some countries refuse to recognize their commitment and do not enshrine this right in their law.

 

During last days of negotiation on Rio+20 text, United Kingdom, Denmark (chair of the EU), Canada and New Zealand made pressure to block the international recognition of this human right. Indeed, the recogognition of human right to safe drinking water and sanitation is an obstacle for privatization of water and makes business on the water and water supply more difficult. While government negotiators worked to agree on the texts of the next Earth Summit for Sustainable Development (Rio +20), these 4 countries and the EU negotiators were preparing the “cancellation” of the right to drinking water and sanitation recognized by General Assembly of the UN in July 2010. The EU negotiators firstly tried to modify the draft text of Rio 20 so that the UN could no longer assert any consensus on this right. If no consensus, there is therefore effectively no human right to water and sanitation.

 

“States are wasting their time on re-negotiating their own decisions rather than moving forward to implement the right to water and sanitation for all,” Ms. de Albuquerque, UN Special Rapporteur on water, stressed. “We should be marking World Water Day with progress, not debating semantics and certainly not back-tracking on these issues.”

 

“Rio+20 and post-2015 development goals should not betray the previous commitments on the right to water and sanitation. It is now time to focus on the world population who only have access to unclean and unsafe water and inadequate sanitation,” the UN Special Rapporteur appealed on World Water Day.


More details on the EU negotiation on Rio+20 text (before backing down the day before the vote):

Some EU negotiators firstly promoted interests of the water industry by eliminating the barrier posed through recognition of fundamental human right and by emphasisiing the management. Thus EU firstly asked:

to replace the words "right to water" by "achieving universal access";

to delete any reference to human rights by deleting the words "for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights";

to replace "the critical importance of water resources" by "the critical importance of integrated water resources management ", etc.

Fortunatelly EU negotiators finally backed down such modifications.

 

For reminder:

26th of  July 2010, a non-binding resolution voted by the UN General Assembly affirms that the right to clean, healthy drinking water is an inalienable human right.

On 24th September 2010, the Council for Human Rights has anchored this right in the international conventions that relate to human rights.  However, these are not binding and the investments necessary to provide drinking water that is healthy, clean, accessible and affordable to all are the responsibility of the states. The states have to enshrine it in their laws and apply it to make it effective.

More details :

Does the UN’s recognition of the right to water change anything ?

Statement on the Right to Sanitation by UN CESCR (November 2010)

UN declares access to clean water and sanitation is a human right (July 2010)

 

22 March - World Water Day

Video: "Access to Water is a Fundamental Human Right" by One Drop (1'29'') watch video

UN Website of World Water Day: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/index.html

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