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NEWS: One year anniversary of UN right to water resolution approaches

Thalif Deen of the Inter Press Service reports, “When the international community commemorates the first anniversary of a historic General Assembly resolution recognising the right to water and sanitation as a basic human right, there will be no joyous celebrations in the corridors of the United Nations, come July 28. ‘I think member states have been slow to react,’ complains a highly-disappointed Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, one of Canada’s largest citizens’ organisations promoting social and economic justice. ‘I know my own government has still not endorsed it, and still says – incorrectly – that the General Assembly resolution was not binding,’ Barlow told IPS. …Barlow said, ‘I think the most significant progress was the adoption of a second resolution by the Human Rights Council’ (on September 30, 2010). Not only did the second resolution lay out the responsibilities of governments to realise this newly recognised right, because it was based on two existing international treaties, but it also clarified that the General Assembly resolution is now binding, she added. ‘The human right to water and sanitation is now as binding as any other (resolution) ever adopted by the United Nations,’ Barlow noted.”

“Asked what civil society plans to do in ensuring the implementation of the U.N. resolution, Barlow told IPS, ‘Our global water justice community has been working hard on the next steps. Essentially we are working to create a domestic plan of action in as many countries as we can and most will include lobbying their governments to write its plan of action for submission to the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and for this plan to clearly spell out how the government will meet the three required obligations (to respect, to protect, and to fulfil),’ she said.”

“The Council of Canadians also plans to campaign governments to adopt the right to water and sanitation into their own constitutions, thereby removing this fundamental right from the whims of changing political parties. Additionally, the Council seeks to enlarge the traditional view of a human right from the individually-centred one, currently used at the United Nations, to one that is more inclusive of cultural and collective realities. ‘We also want the right to water and sanitation to include the rights of water itself and the rights of watersheds to be protected from extractive industries and corporate and government pollution,’ Barlow said. The Council will also target women and indigenous peoples, as well as the most marginalised, for priority services. It will campaign globally for the wealthy governments of the North to increase their foreign aid and target it to water and wastewater infrastructure investment in the global South and continue to promote water and wastewater delivery systems that are public and not-for- profit.”

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow and campaigners Anil Naidoo and Emma Lui will be at the United Nations in New York to mark the anniversary and to meet with right to water allies. The Canadian edition of Maude Barlow’s report ‘Our Right to Water: A People’s Guide to Implementing the United Nations’ Recognition of the Right to Water and Sanitation’ will also be released. To read the international edition, please go to http://canadians.org/water/documents/RTW/righttowater-0611.pdf.

The full IPS article can be read at http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=56600.