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NEWS: Canada tries to remove rights language from Rio+20 text

IPS reports, “The upcoming (Rio+20) conference (this June 20-22) is showing signs of divisiveness over a draft outcome document – an action plan to be adopted by world leaders on sustainable development for the future. An international coalition of over 400 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 67 countries is challenging ‘an apparent systematic effort by particular governments to delete virtually all references to well-established rights to water, energy, food and development’. These are some of the basic principles agreed at the original Earth Summit in 1992, says the coalition which includes Oxfam International, Greenpeace International, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the Council for Canadians, CIVICUS, and Women in Europe for a Common Future.”

The article notes, “Anil Naidoo of the Council of Canadians told IPS, ‘My assessment is that the conflicts (amongst UN member states) in the negotiations are mostly focused on the ill-defined green economy and on attacks on human rights and equity. We are seeing northern governments like Canada, the United States, New Zealand and the UK trying to remove human rights and safeguards in the document, which would leave the most vulnerable completely at the mercy of a commodified green economy,’ he said. …’If they are successful, and also remove human rights, we risk doing immense harm to the most vulnerable and to the environment, through Rio+20. This would be a travesty,’ he said.”

“Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, told IPS, ‘Yes, Canada is one of the countries leading the charge to have the human right to water and sanitation language removed from the Rio+20 draft text. To the shame of Canadians, Canada continues to refuse to recognise these rights even though the U.N. General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have clearly recognised them and, as a member state of the UN, Canada is now bound by this development,’ she said. Barlow said Canada also played a very negative role at the World Water Forum in Marseille two weeks ago when it was instrumental in weakening the language on the human rights to water and sanitation in the ministerial statement that came out of that summit.”

“Canada (also) recently attempted to remove important human rights language from a key Food and Agriculture Organisation document (Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forest in the Context of National Food Security) designed to provide for a wide range of human rights around land, food and housing. ‘And don’t forget of course, Canada’s abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol (on climate change) and any notion that rich countries had a duty to poor countries to recognise the need for climate justice,’ said Barlow, a former senior advisor on water to the president of the U.N. General Assembly. She pointed out that under the present Stephen Harper government, Canada has now taken its place as ‘a leading regressive force’ in the search for food, environmental, climate and water justice in the world. ‘At home and internationally, Canada is now putting profit and personal gain before human and environmental rights, moving the world backward in time,’ Barlow added.”

The IPS article can be read at http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/rio-20-suffers-leadership-void-weeks-ahead-of-summit. Our Rio+20 campaign web-page – with backgrounders, as well as numerous updates and blogs – can be found at http://canadians.org/rio20.