Like Freedom, Water is a Human Right Says Social Forum in Brazil

Five priorities to advance the struggle for water to be considered a human right – rather than a commodity – were defined in the debate, “Strategies for the Agglutination of Networks and Organizations Around a Global Water Platform,” on the final day of the V World Social Forum in Brazil.

A document summarizing the proposals should be launched soon. One of the organizers of the discussions, as well as being responsible for drafting the document, Jocélio Drummond, who represents the Public Services International (PSI), reveals five of the chief proposals that will be included in a letter that will be issued in a few days:


“Strive to get the United Nations to recognize water as a human right is the first one,” he affirms.


For Drummond, it is necessary to keep water from being discussed in the World Trade Organization (WTO), eliminate all commercial entanglements that might arise, and remove water from any future bilateral agreement between two countries.


A third point is to try to influence the policies of the World Bank (IBRD), which “continues to uphold the privatization of water.”


The PSI representative contends that all the studies show that when water is privatized, access to it drops significantly.


“The neediest segments of the population lack means of payment. For this reason, we intend to monitor the IBRD’s reports, challenge them, and denounce the policy proposals that are opposed to this right, when it comes to the issue of access to water.”


An international campaign against the principal transnational enterprise involved in the commercialization of water around the globe, Suez, a French company, was also singled out as a priority during the debates.


“We will denounce these companies, especially Suez. In Brazil it has links not with water – Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s Administration pushed privatization but was defeated – but with urban sanitation. The Vega Environmental Engineering Company belongs to Suez.”


The fifth prong of the campaign for everyone to have access to water is “to keep water in public hands.” According to Drummond, public enterprises are the only assurance that this access will be maintained.


“We plan to establish a network made up of the good public enterprises, such as those of São Paulo, Recife, Porto Alegre, and Stockholm. When public enterprises don’t work, comments run rife, but when the opposite is the case, practically nobody says anything.”


Translation: David Silberstein
Agência Brasil

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