Sunday, December 5, 2010

Water, death and human rights


A quote on the human right to water from a Canadian icon, found by chance:

«Go three days without water and you don't have any human rights. Why? Because you're dead.» Margaret Atwood, Observer Magazine, 28 November 2010, p.18 (online here)

Is this a justification for the human right to water? A fortiori, does the same justification apply to air? Should there be a human right to air? Is the emergence of new human rights absolutely good? Does it denote a more profound problem? On these issues, two interesting thoughts may further the reflection initiated here. According to Radha D’SOUZA, «Liberal Theory, Human Rights and Water-Justice: Back to Square One?» (2008) 1 Law, Social Justice & Global Development Journal at 9:

«What is missed by political theorists canvassing for human rights as a means of mitigating the problems of privatisation in the wake of ‘globalisation’ is the fact that the struggle for new rights come with recognition of new market prerogatives. The human right to water arises because water is brought into a private property regime in which it was not included before. What is at stake here is the entrenchment of water as part of a property regime.» [Here, property must not be understood as the legal artefact stricto sensu, as it refers to a political conception of social and economic regimes.] (link)

According to Costas DOUZINAS, «The End(s) of Human Rights» (2002) 26 Melbourne University Law Review 445 at 459:

«Both universal morality and cultural identity express different aspects of human experience. Their comparison in the abstract is futile and the differences between the two are not pronounced. When a state adopts ‘universal’ human rights, it will interpret and apply them, if at all, according to local procedures and moral principles, making the universal the handmaiden of the particular. The reverse is also true: even those legal systems which jealously guard traditional rights and cultural practices against the encroachment of the universal are already contaminated by it. All rights and principles, even if parochial in their content, share the universalising impetus of their form. In this sense, rights carry the seed of dissolution of community and the only defence is to resist the idea of rights altogether – something impossible in the global capitalist world.»

No comments:

Post a Comment