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News Archives » human right to water

Italian Constitutional Court Blocks the Privatization of Water July 23rd, 2012

In an important ruling, the Italian Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional the privatization of water and local public services. In a ruling issued July 20, the Court ruled against Article 4 of the Decree Law 138 of August 13, 2011, by which, the Berlusconi government re-introduced the privatization of local public services. This ruling also blocks all subsequent amendments, including those of the Monti government.

The ruling strongly confirms the citizens’ will, expressed in the referendum of 12 and 13 June 2011. On those dates, a nationwide popular referendum was held in Italy on four questions, two of which concerned the privatization of water. Turnout was reported to be high, reaching 56.9%, with clear majorities of 94.6% to 96.1% in favor on all questions. The Vatican has come out strongly in favor of the human right to water, and opposed the efforts to privatize the vital resource. Cardinal Turkson, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said water distribution should be a service provided by governments to their citizens as part of their role in protecting the common good. 


Canada Declares Support for Human Right to Water May 31st, 2012

In a surprising turnaround, Canada bowed to years of national and international pressure, deciding at last to recognize the human right to water and sanitation.

The Council of Canadians, Canada’s largest social justice advocacy organization, has campaigned for more than a decade to ensure the human right to water, and posted this response to the announcement on their website:

As recently as last month, Canada was isolated in the Rio+20 negotiations as the only country to publicly claim there is no legal basis for the right and call for its deletion. This position was untenable, however, almost two years after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing the right (GA Res. A/64/292) followed by three subsequent confirming Human Rights Council resolutions.

Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians and a former UN Senior Advisor on Water to the President of the General Assembly, says, “It took unprecedented pressure to get this government to change its position, and the shift is a good thing, but words are not enough. We need actions, and the government’s actions directly contradict respect for the human right to water.”

The Council has consistently asked Canadian governments to show their commitment to water by implementing a national water act including a domestic plan of action on the human right to water. The Council of Canadians looks forward to the government providing a clear plan of what it intends to do to meet its international and domestic obligations with regard to the human right to water and sanitation.

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Threat to Water from Mining in Peru Mobilizes Masses February 5th, 2012

Thousands of Peruvians from the Amazon to Lima have mobilized against a serious threat to the water in the Cajamarca region of Peru. Residents there, mostly indigenous peoples, are deeply concerned about the threat to their water from a proposed mining development by the American company, Newmont Mining. Oblates in the US have engaged Newmont about the impact of their operations on communities where they have mining operations. The Yanacocha mine has been a priority in those conversations though the recent turmoil in the Cajamarca region is related to the proposed development of Minas Congas and extension of the Yanacocha project. The Oblates in Peru are supporting the March for Water that has been organized by civil society in the impacted areas.

The movement claims “the right to be consulted, to be respected and heard in decisions about its development model, for socially-just participation in economic growth, the prohibition of mining in the headwaters of rivers, and a stop to mining with cyanide and mercury that is causing so much damage to land and water.” The marchers are proclaiming their human right to water, and drawing support from churches and civil society alike in a several day march from Cajamarca to Lima. The Great National Water mobilization began on February 1st and will conclude with a convocation in Lima on February 9-10.

Read a full description of the mobilization (in English translation):


Materials in Spanish are also available under News in the Spanish section of this website


Mandate for Special Rapporteur on Water and Sanitation Adopted by UN HR Council March 25th, 2011

Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk-Franco discusses her village's sewer system with the U.N. Independent Expert Catarina de Albuquerque.

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution this morning extending the mandate on the human right to safe water and sanitation for another three years, and changing the powers of the Independent Expert to that of a special rapporteur.

This is good news. The mandate will continue with Catarina de Albuquerque in the position of Special Rapporteur. In this position, she will have enhanced powers: in addition to assisting governments to define the scope and content of the rights, she can engage with governments about complaints from affected individuals, communities, and civil society organizations on issues related to and possible violations of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

Furthermore, the resolution explicitly states the full list of criteria for the human rights to water and sanitation. These are listed below:

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Oblates Call on California Governor to Sign Law Recognizing a Human Right to Water September 23rd, 2009

clean-drinking-waterFour Oblate priests in Los Angeles wrote Governor Schwarzenegger urging his support for AB 1242, the Human Right to Water Act of 2009. The priests minister to some 12,000 parishioners in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

The priests said “We believe that access to safe, affordable and clean water is a human right, and no one should be denied this right because of being poor.”

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