”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does. – “Anthropologist Margaret Mead
UNITED NATIONS, May 31, 2012 (IPS) – Canada, in a dramatic political turnaround, has signaled its willingness to recognise water and sanitation as a basic human right.
As negotiations continue over the Rio+20 plan of action on sustainable development to be adopted in Brazil next month, Canada became one of the last Western nations to drop its opposition to a reference to water as a human right in the document titled “The Future We Want.”
Maude Barlow, national chairperson of the Council of Canadians, one of Canada’s largest social justice advocacy organisations, said it took “unprecedented pressure” to get the government in Ottawa to change its position.
“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,” said Barlowe, a former U.N. senior advisor on water to the president of the General Assembly.
Asked what next, she told IPS: “That’s a very good question.” She said the government is supposed to prepare a report on its plan of action and submit it to the United Nations. “You can be sure we will be sitting on them,” she added.
When the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution in July 2010 recognising water and sanitation as a basic human right, 122 countries voted for it, with 41 abstentions, but with no negative votes.