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Water Forum: Bolivia's Alternative Declaration

From 16 to 22 March the 4th World Water Forum will be held in Mexico City. The Forum is the most important international meeting on water but – as a hybrid form of a private congress and an official conference – its legitimacy is highly controversial. In the official draft declaration the right to water is not even mentioned. Therefore, on 10 March an alternative draft proposal has been presented by the Bolivian Minister of Water, Abel Mamani. World Economy & Development in brief documents the proposal.


Draft proposal presented by Bolivia, 10 March 2006

1) We claim as our own the words of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights which in November 2002 stated that: “Water is a limited natural resource and a public good fundamental for life and health. The human right to water is indispensable for leading a life in human dignity. It is a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights.”

2) We endorse: “The right to water clearly falls within the category of guarantees essential for securing an adequate standard of living, particularly since it is one of the most fundamental conditions for survival (…) The right to water is also inextricably related to the right to the highest attainable standard of health (…) and the rights to adequate housing and adequate food (…) The right should also be seen in conjunction with other rights enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights, foremost amongst them the right to life and human dignity.” (CESCR 2002)

3) We fully share the observation made by CESCR in 2002 that: “The elements of the right to water must be adequate for human dignity, life and health, in accordance with articles 11, paragraph 1, and 12 (of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights). The adequacy of water should not be interpreted narrowly, by mere reference to volumetric quantities and technologies. Water should be treated as a social and cultural good, and not primarily as an economic good. The manner of the realisation of the right to water must also be sustainable, ensuring that the right can be realised for present and future generations.” As a result we acclaim the referendum on water carried out on the 30 October 2004 in Uruguay.

4) We state that water belongs to the earth and all living beings including human beings. Our responsibility as human beings is to protect access to water for all forms of life and for the earth itself. Water enables the integration of living beings, nature and human society. The principal means of preserving life and water is through the involvement and participation of all peoples, women, young people, indigenous people with their wisdom of centuries, and all those who live on the earth.

5) In order to meet the Millennium Development Goals, we commit to prioritising investment in water from our national public budgets. We call on the international aid community (World Bank, Regional Development Banks and Bilateral Government agencies) to support the initiatives of developing countries without any conditions based on the privatisation of drinking water and basic sanitation services. We consider that management and control of water needs to be in a sphere that is public, social, community-based, participative and not based on profit. All local, national and international public institutions have a responsibility to ensure these conditions.

6) We call for the withdrawal of water from all free trade agreements such as the WTO and regional Free Trade Agreements and reaffirm the sovereign right of each country to regulate their hydrological resources in all its uses and services. We urge the suspension of any negotiation on drinking water and basic sanitation services within GATS (the General Agreement on Trade in Services of the WTO) and call for the withdrawal of water in all its uses and services from the jurisdiction of Bilateral Investment Treaties.

7) In the light of recent calamities provoked by disasters caused by water it is necessary to strengthen policies and actions of prevention and to call on all countries to sign and enact as soon as possible the Kyoto Protocol and the Convention on Climate Change.

8) We call for a profound change in the organisation of the World Water Forum to allow majority and decisive participation in the negotiations by the poorest and those who most need water. It is essential that the World Water Forum effectively reflects the different positions that exist on water without privileging those who have the resources to register and organise sessions.

Mexico City, 22 March 2006

Posted: 12 March 2006.

* Find more on the subject:
>>> Official Website www.worldwaterforum.org
>>> Alternative NGO Website www.comda.org.mx
>>> Other Websites: Heinrich Böll Foundation, Transnational Institute, World Development Movement

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