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Council signs statement deploring exclusion of right to water from World Water Forum ministerial declaration

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The Council of Canadians and Blue Planet Project have signed the global ‘call to action for the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.’ That statement says, “We, the undersigned organizations, are deeply concerned that the sixth World Water Forum plans to adopt a Ministerial Declaration that fails to commit states to the realization of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

The letter continues, “The sixth World Water Forum is held under the slogan ‘It’s time for solutions and commitments.’ Yet the draft Ministerial Declaration falls short of commitments that virtually all UN member states have already made. Instead of reaffirming the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation as authoritatively recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the World Health Assembly and committing states to the realization of this fundamental human right, the draft Ministerial Declaration of the sixth World Water Forum in its current form only commits signatories to implement ‘human rights obligations relating to access to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation.'”

It highlights, “The Ministerial Declaration of the sixth World Water Forum will not be legally binding; nor will it carry the political and moral authority of a United Nations resolution adopted in accordance with transparent, participatory and democratic United Nations rules and procedures. However, a Ministerial Declaration containing retrogressive language on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation would still set a negative precedent, which a small number of states will use to try to undermine progress on the right to safe drinking water and sanitation at the United Nations level and in other international processes.”

The letter includes the demand, “We urge the states participating in the sixth World Water Forum to explicitly and unequivocally reaffirm their prior commitment to the right to safe drinking water and sanitation and to insist on [an] amendment to the draft Ministerial Declaration [to recognize these rights] . . . In case such an amendment should not be possible, we call upon all ministers participating in the sixth World Water Forum not to sign the Ministerial Declaration in order to prevent conflicts with commitments regarding the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation made by their governments at the United Nations level and/or in other international

The coalition supporting this call to action, initiated by WASH United, includes Amnesty International, Both ENDS, the Center for Economic and Social Rights, DIGDEEP, End Water Poverty, the European Federation of Public Service Unions, the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, The Global Initiative for Economic Social and Cultural Rights, UWASNET, WASH Advocates, the Water is Right Foundation and the World Toilet Organization.

Late last week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to water and sanitation Catarina de Albuquerque stated, “Governments are being inconsistent with their prior decisions on the recognition of the right to water and sanitation taken at the UN General Assembly [if the right to water and sanitation isn’t included in the Ministerial Declaration]. If governments spend one week [at the World Water Forum] discussing ’solutions’ for water issues while failing to base them on the human right to water and sanitation, how could such solutions be for people who need water and sanitation most and are systematically neglected?”

The Council of Canadians and Blue Planet Project reject the World Water Forum as an undemocratic ‘Davos of water’ conference dominated by transnational water corporations that are trying to negate what has been achieved at the United Nations General Assembly. To follow the Council of Canadians/ Blue Planet Project intervention against the World Water Forum in Marseille, please see http://canadians.org/blog/?s=%22world+water+forum%22 and http://canadians.org/wwf.

To read the Call to Action, please go to http://www.wash-united.org/uploads/media/CalltoAction_WWF.pdf.

Brent Patterson, Political Director, The Council of Canadians

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