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March 19, 2009

Please see below the media release issued by the Council of Canadians this morning.

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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.

March 19, 2009

Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow will be interviewed live from the World Water Forum in Istanbul tomorrow, Friday March 20, by CBC Radio.

The Current is broadcast weekdays at 8:30 a.m. (9:00 NT) on CBC Radio One and on Sirus Satellite 137.

It will also be available later as a podcast at http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/. (We will also send around that audio link.)

The Council of Canadians team of Maude, Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo, and water campaigner Meera Karunananthan have been doing an extraordinary job on our behalf in Istanbul.

Be sure to read Meera's blog from the World Water Forum at www.canadians.org.

March 19, 2009

A new report from Corporate Europe Observatory notes that, "Judging from all available sources, the European Union appears in fact to be pushing for including water in trade agreements whenever possible."

Their report notes various bilateral trade talks the EU have been pursuing with developing countries and states, "Even the simple question of whether the EU is pushing for including water and sanitation services in these FTAs is kept from public scrutiny."

Their report also notes, "In February 2003...the EU’s requests to third countries were leaked and (it) became public that the EU was asking 72 countries to ‘liberalise’ their water services, providing unlimited market access and ‘national treatment’ for foreign firms. Many of the countries targeted had public-managed water sectors. The EU’s demands were clearly aimed at advancing privatisation to benefit the EU corporations that dominate the world’s private water markets."

March 19, 2009

AlterNet reports that, "Each (World Water) Forum pretends to be a quasi-United Nations event, to the extent of issuing a Ministerial Statement at the Forum's close promoting global policy approaches to water and sanitation."

"This year, Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, President of the UN General Assembly, requested to be given an opportunity to publicly address the World Water Forum, but received no response from the Forum's organizers."

The article continues, "Concerning d'Escoto's effective exclusion, Maude Barlow, his Senior Advisor on Water, said, 'The Forum portrays itself as a UN event. But the President of the UN General Assembly was denied the opportunity to speak. We could hardly have a more clear message about the Forum's priorities.'"

This morning Maude delivered a speech on behalf of the UN president 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 World Water Forum.

March 18, 2009

Notes from the 5th World Water Forum March 16-22, 2009 Istanbul, Turkey

The Ministerial process aimed at producing a declaration on the outcomes of the World Water Forum has just closed. We've just heard that Brazil, Egypt and the US have prevented the right to water from being recognized as a human right. There was a proposal to include an appendix with comments from each country. Shockingly, the chair, a representative of the Turkish government, reported that the Governors of the World Water Council needed to be consulted before an appendix could be added.

We are starting to see more and more cracks in this farce of a process that pretends to be democratic. Governments wanting their comments to be made public are now awaiting the permission of the corporate-run World Water Council. Sources inside the meetings tell us that Switzerland was appalled. Uruguay declared even before the opening of the Forum that they would call for a counter declaration if the right to water was blocked.

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