Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 3, 2006
Development and Peace calls for global-wide clean water rights
By DEBORAH GYAPONG
Canadian Catholic News
Access to safe water should not depend on the charity of countries like Canada, says an official with the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace.
"It's a basic human right and it should be written down and people should demand it," said Mary Durran, CCODP's advocacy/ research officer.
On March 22, World Water Day, a CCODP delegation delivered 236,485 postcards from Canadians insisting access to clean water be recognized as a basic human right.
In a meeting with Foreign Affairs officials after the drop, Durran said recognition of the human right to water was necessary to give people in developing nations a "tool" when fighting their own governments.
English Education Coordinator Siobhan Rowan said Development and Peace's campaign for water rights has "created a sense of outrage" and a "sense of shame" that Canada "does not recognize this as a right."
However, Foreign Affairs officials told the CCODP delegation that recognizing a human right to water had legal implications that would have to be carefully thought out.
Calling it a right has legal consequences, the officials said, noting a right to water is not recognized in international law.
One official also said that recognition of water as a human right is often confused with opposition to the privatization of water, noting food, clothing and housing are obtained through private means.
Development and Peace made it clear the group did not oppose privatization per se, only the fact that privatization has often led to huge cost increases that put access to water out of reach of the poor.
So far 148 municipalities across Canada, including Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Victoria, have recognized water as a human right.
More information about the water campaign can be found at www.devp.org.