Australia joins 40 nations who won’t back water rights

Issue 

Forty-one countries abstained in the July 28 UN General Assembly vote on Bolivia’s resolution to recognise access to water and sanitation as basic human rights.

Rather than honestly vote “no”, they abstained to avoid being labelled as opponents of access to water, but many made statements that revealed their hostility to the very idea of recognising water as a human right.

Australia “had reservations about declaring new human rights in a General Assembly resolution”.

Britain said “there was no sufficient legal basis for declaring or recognising water or sanitation as freestanding human rights, nor was there evidence that they existed in customary law”.

The US said “there was no ‘right to water and sanitation’ in an international legal sense, as described by the resolution”.

Canada said the resolution “appeared to determine that there was indeed a right without setting out its scope”.

The abstainers were Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Greece, Guyana, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Zambia.

[Reprinted from Climate and Capitalism www.climateandcapitalism.com .]

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