In a huge win for water rights, Mexico is close to acknowledging the human right to water in the Mexican Constitution!
On September 29, Mexico’s Senate passed the right to water and a healthy environment in the Mexican Constitution. Now, the measure just needs to pass the state legislative bodies, and it will be official.
Mexico isn’t the only country in Latin America that’s trying to formalize the human right to water. Uruguay, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, and El Salvador are working on similar amendments to their constitutions. The fight for water rights is a backlash to the water privatization trend in these areas during the 1990s. The only problem with amendments like these is that often there aren’t resources to enforce them. According to Our Water Commons:
While the initiatives to guarantee the legal “right to water” may provide a tool for social movement activists to make claims in national courts, the tool is weakened by lack of enforcement mechanisms. In Uruguay, for example, less than a year after the constitutional amendment was approved, the Tabaré Vázquez government produced an executive resolution stating that the private companies that signed concession contracts before the referendum would be allowed to continue their contracts. As Carlos Santos and Sebastián Valdomir argue, the Uruguayan government refused to follow through on the popular demand for fear that the companies would retaliate by bringing lawsuits against the government in international court. The companies’ investments are protected by bilateral investment treaties (BITs) that are backed by powerful means of enforcement through investor-state arbitration.
There’s definitely a long way to go when it comes to water rights, but amendments like these are at least a jumping off point to protect our human right to water!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by liber