Water Rights are Human Rights.
From Detroit to Dublin to Dar-es-Salem the human right to water has never been so sharply focused. Internationally there is a fight between those who believe that to have access to water is a basic human right, and those who want to see it in the hands of profiteers, bankers and speculators.
Detroit is a city that has made billions for the industrialists and American capitalists, yet it is city that in 2013 filed for bankruptcy. Despite the wealth that the workers of Detroit created, it is a city with a poverty rate that is double the national average. In order to settle the debt the city authorities have authorized the shutting off of water to those in debt, in a city that is in debt itself.
In Dodoma, Tanzania the World Bank forced the state to privatise the water with disastrous results. Under the auspices of ‘international aid’ The Department for International Development gave a £444,000 contract to Adam Smith International, a pro-free market consultancy, to sell the privatization of water. Eventually the $140m (£76.5m) World Bank-funded privatisation scheme failed. Resentment against private water monopolies is growing, and there have been demonstrations and movements built against privatization of water internationally – people understand that the privatisation of water will lead to dramatic increases in water prices – with the water companies backed by ‘international aid’ profiting from the working class and poor peasants, and raising prices above what people can afford.
In Dublin water charges - until now covered through other existing taxes - will cost many more than €500 a year. Irish Water, the new company established to oversee the charge, has already begun sending out 'information' packs to each household in the country – many water campaigners think this ‘water tax’ is the thin end of the wedge as again working class people pay for an austerity created by the bankers and speculators.
This is an international issue as capitalists seek to privatise public services - however as socialists not only are we against the advance of neo liberalism, but we believe that the right to water is a human right.
Whilst the right to water is not explicitly outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) the right to water is made explicit in a number of other human rights instruments.
The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) at Art.14(2)(h) provides that, “State Parties shall…ensure to such women the right…to enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to water supply.” The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) stipulates:
“States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to… To combat disease and malnutrition…through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution”
Whilst capitalists will dilute the impact of the right to water, and in fact argue that there is a price to this, we as socialists and trade unionists oppose the advance of speculators and profiteers from pricing this essential of all natural resources from working class people. We believe that those who campaign and protest against the privatisation of water are human right defenders.