PBI highlights the right to water in Honduras, Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala at Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur

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Kim-Mai Vu

On September 14, Kim-Mai Vu of Peace Brigades International presented at the United Nations in Geneva during the Interactive Dialogue with Pedro Arrojo, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation.

In this presentation, she stated:

Thank you, Mr. President,

We welcome the report of the Rapporteur on the human rights of indigenous peoples to water and sanitation.

In Honduras, we are concerned about the complaints about the privatization of drinking water, contamination and depletion of water sources as a result of extractive projects in Tolupan territory, such as Las Vegas de Tepemechín and Locomapa, and in protected areas, such as Guapinol and Sierra de Agalta. It is urgent to guarantee the protection of communities and organizations that defend the right to water.

In Mexico, Ejidos de Ayala (Morelos), denounce that the Federal Electricity Commission occupies daily 21 million liters of water for operation tests of the thermoelectric plant in Huexca, without its consent. After judicial appeals, CONAGUA recognized that the diversion of water affects its rights of access to water, and demands a prompt resolution of the amparo lawsuits.

In Colombia, territorial communities have historically suffered persecution and forced displacement: it is the case of Putumayo, Magdalena Medio and Chocó, and of organizations such as Adispa, Justice and Peace Commission, Aguawil, Fedepesan and Credhos, who denounce corruption and contamination of rivers and swamps by companies national and transnational. To date there has been no progress in the investigations of the Prosecutor’s Office.

In Guatemala, for many communities, access to water is increasingly at risk, especially due to large extensions of sugar, palm oil and other monocultures. These have led to the deforestation and greater drought, in addition to consuming a very high percentage of water. They are particularly concerned sugar mills on the south coast.

It is necessary that these four countries invite the Special Rapporteur for an official visit.

The video of Vu’s presentation can be viewed here (at 1:18:39 to 1:20:16).

Franciscans International

PBI was also part of a joint statement with Dominicans for justice and peace and Franciscans International (at 1:21:49) that concluded:

“We urge the Council to urge Guatemala to adopt a law that recognizes the human right to water, to respect the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples and to cease and investigate cases of intimidation and criminalization of defenders of water and the environment.”

Pedro Arrojo

In his comments, the Special Rapporteur stated (at 1:31:01):

“To the indigenous peoples and social movements, like Peace Brigades International – so dear to me from the past, and so many other movements, let’s prepare the Social Water Forum, let’s prepare the Water conference in New York. This time it is not a question of organizing alternative forums, dear friends, but of developing this historic opportunity for dialogue with the United Nations to its full potential.”

The Social Forum will take place both in Geneva and online on November 3-4 of this year, while the UN 2023 Water Conference will be in New York on March 22-24, 2023.

For more, please see the Human Rights Council press release: Special Rapporteur on the Negative Impact of Unilateral Coercive Measures Says Guiding Principles Need to Be Drafted to Protect the Rights and Lives of People.

Please also see the PBI-Switzerland article HRC51: PBI au Conseil des droits de l’homme.

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