The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Meera Karunananthan, national water campaigner at 613.355.2100 or

Canadian Groups Demand That Canada Support Right to Water at the UN


Canadian non-governmental organizations and labour unions sent the prime minister a letter today urging Canada's support for a historic UN resolution calling for drinking water and sanitation to be declared a human right.

The resolution, to be considered by the UN General Assembly on Wednesday July 28, 2010, would recognize the right to water and sanitation for the 1.2 billion people without access to clean water and the 2.6 billion without access to basic sanitation.

Historically, Canada has been one of the most vocal opponents to the recognition of water as a human right in international law. Canadian organizations are demanding that the Canadian government act differently this time around.

The letter was signed by the Council of Canadians, Blue Planet Project, the National Network on Environments and Women's Health, the Polaris Institute, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, MiningWatch, La Coalition Eau Secours!, and Friends of the Earth Canada.

"We are overdue for water to be acknowledged as a global priority," Canadian organizations declared in the letter to prime minister Harper. "Passing this resolution would send a strong signal that before the Millennium Development Goal review in September and before the next Earth Summit in 2012, that we are committed as a global community to address the suffering caused by the global water crisis."

Organizations fear that a handful of countries opposing the resolution including Canada may attempt to prevent water and sanitation from being declared universal human rights by altering the language of the resolution.

"For several years, international and local community groups fighting for water justice have been calling for the UN to recognize once and for all that water and sanitation are human rights," says Maude Barlow, chairperson of the Council of Canadians.

"We're calling on Harper not to try and obstruct this important resolution or modify the language of the resolution from rights to vague obligations. It is a loophole that countries like Canada want to create to avoid accountability."

Barlow will be joined by Council of Canadians Blue Planet Project organizer Anil Naidoo and national water campaigner, Meera Karunananthan at the UN this week.

Founded in 1985, the Council of Canadians is Canada's leading social action organization, mobilizing a network of 60 chapters across the country.

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