The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

URGENT! LATEST POSTING FROM AUCKLAND MAYORAL CANDIDATE PENNY BRIGHT TO NZ UN AMBASSADOR RE: THE HUMAN RIGHT TO WATER AND SANITATION

Dear Ambassador,

FYI

27 July 2010

Sally Jackman
Senior Policy Officer
United Nations, Human Rights and Commonwealth Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

OPEN LETTER:

Dear Sally,

Thank you for your response.

However, it raises a number of significant issues:

1) “While New Zealand is a party to ICESCR, we did not ‘sign up’ to General Comment 15 on ‘the right to water’ as States do not sign up up to General Comments. Such General Comments are not binding commitments but constitute the views of the particular Committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of States.”

Are you saying that NZ as a ‘State Party’ did not / does not support General Comment 15 on ‘the right to water’?

Upon what documentation are you relying to support your view?

2) “New Zealand will be represented at this vote by a member of our Permament Mission to the United Nations in New York”

What is the process/procedure by which (unelected) diplomatic staff attached to the NZ Permament Mission to the United Nations, reflect the view of elected representatives of the NZ Government, or the NZ House of Representatives?

3) “The Bolivian resolution has come at short notice and we are still working with our Mission in New York on how best to proceed.”

Who is the “we” to whom you refer?
Elected representatives of the NZ Government, or (unelected) MFAT staff?

4) Given the potentially huge significance of this UN General Assembly resolution for billions of the world’s peoples, how is it that on Friday 23 July 2010, neither the Private Secretary of the NZ minister of Foreign Affairs, nor the Deputy Director of UNHR were even aware of this arguably historic ‘Draft Resolution on the Human right to Water and Sanitiation’ – let alone that it was to be voted on at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday 28 July 2010?

What is the ‘systems fault’ that allowed this apparent communications failure (in my considered opinion as a former Quality Assurance Co-Ordinator) to occur?

Or is it ‘normal procedure’ for unelected diplomatic staff to effectively be left to their ‘own devices’ and make significant international decisions on behalf of ‘New Zealand’, without the apparent knowledge (or authority?) of elected representatives of the NZ Government?

What ‘briefing papers’ ‘reports’ or the like, (if any) have members of the NZ Permament Mission to the United Nations staff received on this matter?

5) Please be reminded of these fundamental facts which this UN General Assembly Draft Resolution on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation is trying to address:

“PP4 Deeply concerned that approximately 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and that over 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation, and alarmed that approximately 1.5 million children under 5 years of age die and 443 million school days are lost each year from water and sanitation related diseases,

PP5 Acknowledging the importance of equitable, safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as an integral component of the realization of human rights,

PP6 Reaffirming the responsibility of States for the promotion and protection of all human rights, that are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, and must be treated globally, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis, ..”

6) Please be reminded of New Zealand’s stated position on ‘Human Rights’, as outlined on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website:

http://www.mfat.govt.nz/Foreign-Relations/1-Global-Issues/index.php

“Human Rights
In selected areas of the multilateral agenda New Zealand plays a part as a good international citizen as an expression of our national values. The promotion and protection of human rights is one such area. ”

7) Please confirm that New Zealand’s stated position on ‘Human Rights’, as outlined on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, will be upheld, and the following DRAFT RESOLUTION
The Human Right to Water and Sanitation will be supported, lobbied and voted for by NZ staff at the Permament Mission to the United Nations, on Wednesday 28 July 2010.

DRAFT RESOLUTION
The Human Right to Water and Sanitation

Item 48 of the General Assembly: Integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up
to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Burundi,
Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador,
Fiji, Georgia, Haiti, Madagascar, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and the
Grenadines, Samoa, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka,
Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of), Yemen.

PP1 Recalling its resolutions 54/175 of 17 December 1999, The Right
to Development, 55/196 of 20 December 2000 proclaiming 2003 as the
International Year of Freshwater, 58/217 of 23 December 2003, proclaiming
the International Decade for Action, “Water for Life” (2005–2015), 59/228 of 22
December 2004 and 61/192 of 20 December 2006, proclaiming 2008 as the
International Year of Sanitation, 64/198 of 21 December 2009 regarding the
Midterm comprehensive review of the implementation of the International Decade
for Action, “Water for Life,” Agenda 21 of June 1992, the Habitat Agenda of 1996,
the Mar del Plata Action Plan of 1977 adopted by the United Nations Water
Conference, and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development of June 1992,

PP2 Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All
Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Geneva
Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,

PP3 Recalling also all previous resolutions of the Human Rights Council
on “human rights and access to safe drinking water and sanitation,” inter alia,
resolutions 7/22 of 28 March 2008 and 12/8 of 1 October 2009 related to the
human right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation, General Comment
15 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on “The Right to
Water,” the “Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
on the scope and content of the relevant human rights obligations related to
equitable access to safe drinking water and sanitation under international human
rights instruments,” as well as the “Report of the independent expert on the
issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation,”

PP4 Deeply concerned that approximately 884 million people lack access to safe
drinking water and that over 2.6 billion do not have access to basic sanitation,
and alarmed that approximately 1.5 million children under 5 years of age die
and 443 million school days are lost each year from water and sanitation related diseases,

PP5 Acknowledging the importance of equitable, safe and clean drinking water
and sanitation as an integral component of the realization of all human rights,

PP6 Reaffirming the responsibility of States for the promotion and protection of
all human rights, that are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated,
and must be treated globally, in a fair and equal manner, on the same footing and with the same emphasis,

PP7 Bearing in mind the commitments made by the international community to
achieve fully the Millennium Development Goals, and stressing, in that context,
the resolve of Heads of State and Government, as expressed in the United
Nations Millennium Declaration, to halve, by 2015, the proportion of people
unable to reach or afford safe drinking water, and to halve the proportion of
people without access to basic sanitation, as agreed in the Johannesburg Plan of
Action,

OP1 Declares the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a
human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights;

OP2 Calls upon states and international organizations to provide financial
resources, capacity building and technology transfer, through international
assistance and co-operation, in particular to developing countries, in order to
scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water
and sanitation for all;

OP3 Welcomes the decision by the Human Rights Council to request that the
independent expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access
to safe drinking water and sanitation present an annual report to the General
Assembly, and encourages her to continue working on all aspects of her
mandate and in consultation with all relevant United Nations agencies, funds,
and programs, to include in her report to the sixty-sixth session of the General
Assembly, the principal challenges related to the realization of the human right
to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation and their impact on achieving the
Millennium Development Goals. ”
___________________________________________________________________________

Dear Penny Bright

Thanks for your messages concerning the right to water and sanitation resolution that is being proposed by Bolivia at the General Assembly.

We appreciate that access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental issue. A difficulty with this resolution is that at this time there is no international consensus on the existence, content, or implications of a stand alone right to water and sanitation. The Bolivian resolution has come at short notice and we are still working with our Mission in New York on how best to proceed.
In terms of the specific questions that you raised below, New Zealand will be represented at this vote by a member of our Permament Mission to the United Nations in New York. While New Zealand is a party to ICESCR, we did not ‘sign up’ to General Comment 15 on ‘the right to water’ as States do not sign up up to General Comments. Such General Comments are not binding commitments but constitute the views of the particular Committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of States.

Best wishes

Sally Jackman

Sally Jackman
Senior Policy Officer
United Nations, Human Rights and Commonwealth Division
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
DDI +64 4 439 8362

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July 27, 2010 - Posted by | Human rights

2 Comments »

  1. I think it’s good idea.

    OKEJ:
    ethetle
    …yeah!

    Comment by smootte | October 27, 2010 | Reply

  2. Schould be work

    OKEJ:
    SeagueCate
    …yeah!

    Comment by Enalolew | October 28, 2010 | Reply


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