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UPDATE: Canada fails to recognize the right to water on World Water Day

Canadas minister of international cooperation Bev Oda.  Photo courtesy of the United Nations Development Programme.

Canada’s minister of international cooperation Bev Oda. Photo courtesy of the United Nations Development Programme.

In its World Water Day message – delivered through Minister of International Cooperation Bev Oda – the Harper government says, “Access to clean water and basic sanitation is fundamental to human health and sustainable development. …On this World Water Day, I ask you to remember those who still lack access to these invaluable resources around the world.”

In its message, the Canadian government does not acknowledge the historic July 28, 2010 United Nations General Assembly vote recognizing the human right to water and sanitation (122 countries voted in favour, 41 countries – including Canada – abstained). Nor does its message mention the subsequent UN Human Rights Council affirmation on October 1, 2010 that the right to water and sanitation is contained in existing human rights treaties and is therefore legally binding and equal to all other human rights.

In contrast, on World Water Day the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton stated, “The EU acknowledges the recent recognition of the human right to water and sanitation by the UN General Assembly, and the Human Rights Council’s specification that this right is part of the human right to an adequate standard of living.”

The Canadian government’s World Water Day message is at http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/HEL-322114019-LDR. Information on the July 28, 2010 UN General Assembly vote is at http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/ga10967.doc.htm. More on the UN Human Rights Council decision is at http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=36308&Cr=water&Cr1.