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The human right to water in the Mexican Constitution – one step closer

For years, Mexican organizations have been pushing our government to acknowledge the human right to water and act accordingly. The Coalition of Mexican Organizations for the Right to Water (COMDA), together with other organizations, started a campaign for the right to water in 2006. However, it seemed unlikely at that time such an initiative would succeed.

On September 13, the Constitutional Points Commission at the Senate voted to pass an initiative that started in the Deputies Chamber. The initiative not only recognizes the right to water, but also states the right to a healthy environment. The proposal should now be discussed in the plenary and, if passed, should be voted in more than half of the states’ legislatures.

One interesting element of this initiative is that it indicates the obligation of formulating a new federal water law. This seems like a great opportunity for changing a predominantly market oriented water law for one that acknowledges water as a common and as a human right. It won’t be easy. The federal water agency will surely have their own proposal that might render meaningless the changes in the Constitution. Mexican groups will have to work hard in making sure this recognition of the right to water materializes in better laws and policies.

The proposed wording for the fourth article of the Constitution states every person has the right to a healthy environment. Such right will be guaranteed by the State and harm to the environment will mean responsibility for those who provoke it. Every person has the right to access, use and sanitation of water for personal and domestic use in sufficient quantity, quality, acceptability and affordability. The State will guarantee this right and determine the base for equity and sustainability with the participation of all government levels and citizen participation.