Water justice activists demand action on 2nd anniversary of UN human right to water resolution

Media Release
July 27, 2012

Ottawa – This Saturday, July 28, 2012 marks the two-year anniversary of the historic United Nations General Assembly resolution recognizing the Human Right to Water and Sanitation. This human right has yet to be fully implemented, however, prompting water justice activists from around the world to release an open letter demanding action from governments.

“As members of the global water justice movement we are deeply concerned to see little progress being made towards the full implementation of this right as governments aggressively pursue false solutions to the environmental and economic crises that will only deepen the water injustices that our organizations and communities have been fighting for decades,” reads the letter, signed by fifteen prominent organizations including the Council of Canadians.

The organizations also produced a series of reports examining key obstacles to the implementation of the human right to water in Argentina, Ecuador, Canada, Colombia, Europe, Indonesia, India, Palestine and the United States. 

Canada, as a member of the United Nations, is obligated to put in place a Federal Plan of Action for the Realization of the Right to Water and Sanitation and report to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

“The federal government is in violation of this new international recognition,” says Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians and former Senior Advisor on Water to the UN General Assembly. “They have obligations to fulfil and we must not let them off the hook.”

Despite the lack of federal action, a growing number of Canadian municipalities have passed resolutions recognizing the human right to water as a result of the Council of Canadians’ Blue Communities project.

“One of the wealthiest countries in the world with one of the most abundant water sources should be able to figure this out,” says Barlow. “Shame on us for not having done it sooner.”

The full text of the open letter can be read below.

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On this second anniversary of the human right to water, we are collectively appealing to the internationally community and our own governments to take action on the implementation of the Human Right to Water and sanitation.

Our demands:

1. Public Financing
We call on States to make the financing of public and community-owned water and sanitation systems through progressive taxation a priority. Furthermore, we call for public resources to be allocated to public-public partnerships ensuring that public sector best practices are shared among those requiring capacity building and training. We also support the call for domestic and international transaction taxes that would increase the revenues and capacity of governments to direct funding to public services.

2. Recognition of and respect for Indigenous Rights
We demand respect for Indigenous rights and sovereignty. We demand recognition of Indigenous knowledge, traditional, spiritual and cultural practices, and institutions of governance.

3. Domestic right to water policies and National Action Plans
We demand member States comply fulfill their obligations under United Nations resolutions and covenants by reforming domestic laws to ensure that all people have the right to water and sanitation. Governments must commit to produce national action plans outlining how they will meet their obligations to respect, fulfill and protect this right.

Also we make an emphatic appeal to the national political authorities, not to give in to corporate interests and rigorously apply existing regulations that protect water sources. A public policy imperative should be the design and implementation of mechanisms for access to information to enable the participation of civil society, as a key player, in monitoring compliance with the Human Right to Water.

4. Non-Discrimination and Non-Regression:

We demand that UN Member States ensure that the principles of non-discrimination and non-regression are adhered to in all current and future actions related to the human right to water and sanitation. This includes respecting their obligations as the primary duty bearer for the human right to water and sanitation and ensuring that there are clear protections and remedies in cases where the private sector interferes with enjoyment of the human right to water and sanitation.

5. An end to loan conditionalities that impose privatization
We demand an end to loan conditionalities that impose privatization as well as domestic policies conducive to privatization on the part of international financial institutions.

Água de todos campaign
Blue Planet Project
Boletín Vertientes
Comité Departamental en Defensa del Agua y la Vida de Antioquia
Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila
Corporación ECOFONDO
Council of Canadians
European Federation of Public Service Unions
Federación española de Ingeniería Sin Fronteras
Food & Water Europe
Food & Water Watch
Forum italiano dei movementi per l'acqua
KRuHA (People's Coalition for the Right to Water) – Indonesia
National Alliance of People's Movements, India
PCN- Palenke del Alto Cauca

 

En este segundo aniversario del derecho humano al agua, estamos demandando colectivamente a la comunidad internacional y a nuestros gobiernos que tomen acciones para la implementación del derecho humano al agua y al saneamiento.

Nuestras demandas:

1. Financiamiento público
Demandamos que los Estados asuman como prioridad el financiamiento de sistemas de agua y saneamiento públicos y comunitarios a través de impuestos progresivos. Además, demandamos que recursos públicos sean asignados a los acuerdos público-comunitarios para asegurar que las mejores prácticas del sector público sean compartidas para quienes requieren aumentar su entrenamiento y capacidades. También apoyamos el llamado para impuestos nacionales e internacionales de transacciones financieras que aumentaría los ingresos y capacidad de los gobiernos para dirigir financiamiento a los servicios públicos.
 
2. Reconocimiento y respeto a los derechos indígenas
Demandamos respeto a los derechos y soberanía indígena. Demandamos el reconocimiento de los conocimientos, prácticas tradicionales, espirituales y culturales y las instituciones de gobierno indígenas.
 
3. Políticas y planes nacionales de acción por el derecho humano al agua
Demandamos a los Estados parte cumplir con sus obligaciones dentro de las resoluciones y tratados de Naciones Unidas reformando leyes nacionales que aseguren que todas las personas tengan derecho humano al agua y al saneamiento. Los gobiernos se deben comprometer a generar planes nacionales delineando cómo cumplirán con sus obligaciones de respetar, proteger y garantizar este derecho.
Además apelamos enfáticamente a las autoridades nacionales a no ceder frente a intereses corporativos y aplicar rigurosamente la legislación existente que protege a fuentes de agua. Un imperativo de política pública debe ser el diseño e implementación de mecanismos para el acceso de información que permita la participación de la sociedad civil, como un actor clave, en monitorear el cumplimiento del derecho humano al agua.
 
4. No discriminación y no regresión:
Demandamos que los Estados parte de las NU se aseguren de cumplir con los principios de no discriminación y no regresión en todas las acciones presentes y futuras con respecto al derecho humano al agua y al saneamiento. Esto incluye respetar su obligación como garantes primarios del derecho al agua y al saneamiento y tener claras protecciones y soluciones en casos donde el sector privado interfiera con el disfrute del derecho.
 
5. El fin de las condicionantes para imponer la privatización
Demandamos el fin a las condicionalidades que imponen la privatización así como políticas nacionales conducentes a la privatización empujadas por instituciones financieras internacionales.
 
Água de todos campaign
Boletín Vertientes
Comité Departamental en Defensa del Agua y la Vida de Antioquia
Corporación Ecológica y Cultural Penca de Sábila
Corporación ECOFONDO
Council of Canadians
European Federation of Public Service Unions
Federación española de Ingeniería Sin Fronteras
Food & Water Europe
Food & Water Watch
Forum italiano dei movementi per l'acqua
KRuHA (People's Coalition for the Right to Water) – Indonesia
National Alliance of People's Movements, India
PCN- Palenke del Alto Cauca
Proyecto del Planeta Azul