rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Defending the human right to water and sanitation at the United Nations

Please chip in to support rabble's election 2019 coverage. Support rabble.ca today for as little as $1 per month!

Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Five years ago, the United Nations formally recognized the human right to water and sanitation by passing resolution 64/292. Social movements who campaigned for it saw the human right to water and sanitation as a tool in the fight against a global water crisis produced by abuse of the water commons, inequality and social exclusion.

In the final week of Intergovernmental Negotiations on the "Post 2015 Development Agenda," the NGO Mining Working Group and the Blue Planet Project marked the occasion by making a final push to have UN Member States ensure the human right to water and sanitation is explicitly and fully named in the process outcome document.

Ambassador Kamau of Kenya and Ambassador Donoghue of Ireland are responsible for co-facilitating the Post-2015 Intergovernamental Negotiations with a resultant Outcome Document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda. The Outcome Document, which includes a set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, will guide official international development policy for the next 15 years. At a consultation with civil society groups, we reminded the co-facilitators of the 621 organizations who demanded that the human right to water and sanitation be explicitly named in the final text.

Water justice organizations have warned that unless the text is rooted in a human rights-based framework, a water and sanitation goal will pave the way for greater commodification of water and sanitation services and freshwater supplies as the water scarcity crisis deepens.

We were encouraged last week to see drinking water explicitly referenced as a right. We did, however, call for the strengthening of this language by naming the human right to water and sanitation in full. Our call was echoed at the UN by Switzerland, Palau, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Mexico, Georgia, Kazakhstan and the "Arab Group" of countries.

Our conversation with the co-facilitators enabled us to challenge an assertion made by one Member State regarding the legal basis for the human right to water and sanitation.

We reminded Member States that:

The Post 2015 Development Agenda will determine the shape of international development over the next 15 years. While we continue to have strong concerns and reservations regarding some components of the agenda, ensuring that the goals and targets relating to water and sanitation are rooted in the human rights framework is a vital first step in establishing peoples and local communities as "rights holders" rather than clients or aid recipients. Additionally, it establishes the obligations of States as duty-bearers who cannot pass off their obligations to private corporations.

The final text was due to be released at the end of the week.

Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.