A United Nations vote to recognize water as a basic human right
is a “historic” chance for the global community to ease human suffering,
according to a Canadian activist in the thick of a last-ditch lobbying effort.
“We’re running out of water and the crisis is getting worse,” Maude Barlow said Monday from New York, on the eve of a vote expected as early as Wednesday at the UN General Assembly.
“If we don’t make a statement that we don’t want entire populations left behind, what does it say about us? About our humanity?”
Barlow, former senior adviser on water at the UN and chair of the Council of Canadians citizens group, is optimistic the resolution will pass by majority vote.
However, it appears powerful nations — including Canada — either will not support it or will push for a version that Barlow says would continue to allow water to be bought and sold as a commodity.
“My fear is that the world is going to be divided into North and South — developed and developing nations — and that’s a disaster for the United Nations and for the world,” said Barlow.
She was referring to apparent behind-the-scenes opposition by the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Britain and other European countries, as well as Canada.
At a time when 2 billion people live in water-stressed regions, the resolution declares that “safe and clean drinking water and sanitation (are) a human right.”