August 13th, 2011
The Toronto Globe and Mail published recently an opinion piece by Maude Barlow the national chair of the Council of Canadians and author of Our Right to Water about an action the United Nations General Assembly took one year ago when it adopted a resolution recognizing the human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation. In fact, two months later the author states, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution affirming that drinking water and sanitation are human rights, and setting out the responsibilities all governments have to fulfill these rights.
According to the author, since the Human Rights Council resolution was interpreting two existing international treaties, the General Assembly resolution is legally binding in international law. The author states that the two resolutions represent an extraordinary breakthrough in the international struggle for the right to safe drinking water and sanitation and a milestone in the fight for water justice.
The piece argues that Ottawa (the capital of Canada) has consistently opposed recognizing the right to water and sanitation and that the government voted to abstain when the General Assembly vote took place, and then argued (incorrectly according to the author) that the resolution is not binding on Canada.
The editorial then points out that there are at least 49 “high risk” aboriginal communities in Canada with little access to clean water and more than 100 facing “boil water” advisories. First Nations homes are 90% more likely to be without running water than the homes of other Canadians.