Please see below the media release issued by the Council of Canadians this morning.
Istanbul / March 19, 2009 – The President of the United Nations General Assembly has told delegates at the World Water Forum in Istanbul that, “We must work quickly to guarantee that access to drinking water constitutes a fundamental right of all peoples…”
In a speech delivered by his senior advisor on water Maude Barlow, UN president Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann said, “Those who are committed to the privatization of water, making it a commodity like oil, are denying people a human right as basic as the air we breathe.”
Ms. Barlow, who is also the national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, delivered the president’s message to the People’s Water Forum, a counter-forum being held by hundreds of civil society members from nearly 70 countries whose voices have not been at the WWF. The speech was later released to the World Water Forum, which is being attended by 20,000 delegates from 150 countries.
The UN president also questioned the legitimacy of the forum itself. His speech stated, “The forum’s orientation is profoundly influenced by private water companies. This is evident by the fact that both the president of the World Water Council and the alternate president are deeply involved with provision of private, for-profit, water services.”
He added that future forums should, “conduct their deliberations under the auspices of the United Nations.”
D’Escoto Brockmann also criticized the World Water Forum’s draft Ministerial Declaration, which sees water as a “human need” rather than a human right. He said, “As it stands, this important statement undermines the efforts of those who are struggling for access to clean water and sanitation.”
“Global water justice advocates welcome this being the last World Water Forum in its present format,” adds Barlow. “There is an urgent need for an accountable and legitimate global water forum to be held regularly to address the grave threats facing our blue planet.”
The next World Water Forum is scheduled to take place in 2012.