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NEWS: Right to water to be argued at Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

The New York Times reports, “The Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, with the help of the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, will submit a petition (today) to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights arguing that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s decision to grant Hydro Resources Inc., a license to mine uranium ore near Churchrock and Crown Point, New Mexico, is a violation of international laws. The groups contend the mines could contaminate drinking water for 15,000 Navajo residents in and around the two communities…”

“Eric Jantz, an attorney with the New Mexico Environmental Law Center, says, ‘I think we have very solid claims. It’s always been our client’s position that clean water is a human right.’ The United Nations also recognizes clean water as a human right, he added.”

The Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining petition states, “By its acts and omissions that have contaminated and will continue to contaminate natural resources in the Dine communities of Crownpoint and Church Rock, the State has violated Petitioners’ human rights and breached its obligations under the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.”

The American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, the world’s first international human rights instrument of a general nature, was adopted at the same conference that created the Organization of American States in April 1948, thus predating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by less than a year.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States. The IACHR is a permanent body, with headquarters in Washington, DC, and meets in regular and special sessions several times a year to examine allegations of human rights violations in the hemisphere. Its human rights duties stem from three documents: 1) the OAS Charter, 2) the American Convention on Human Rights; 3) the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The article notes, “The groups cannot take their case to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which is separate from the commission, because the United States does not recognize the international court’s jurisdiction, Jantz said.”

There are 35 member states of the OAS, including Canada.

The article is at http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2011/05/12/12greenwire-navajo-group-to-take-uranium-mine-challenge-to-33718.html?pagewanted=1. The text of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man can be read at http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/oasinstr/zoas2dec.htm.