Saturday, February 12, 2011

Article on the human right to water in the Canadian Charter of Rigths and Freedoms


A very interesting article about the human right to water in Canadian law by James Harnum, «Deriving the Right to Water from the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of the Person: Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Aboriginal Communities in Canada», was just published in the 19th volume of the Review of European Community & International Environmental Law (RECIEL). From the abstract:

«This article examines the question of whether a right to safe drinking water can be derived from the right to life, liberty and security of the person that is protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. By examining the situation of Aboriginal communities in Canada and the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Canada, it appears that a right to water may, in certain circumstances, be derived from other fundamental human rights.»

At the heart of the argument is the impossibility to establish a qualitative difference between negative and positive rights. Harnum refers to a number of cases in which a decision by the Supreme Court clearly had an impact on the regulatory and financial burden of the State to establish that tribunal should not only protect negative rights.

For a related but broader analysis under the Québec Charter, see David Robitaille, «Les droits économiques et sociaux dans les relations États-particuliers après trente ans d'interprétation: normes juridiques ou énoncés juridiques symboliques?» [Social and economic rights in State-individuals relations after 30 years of interpretation: legal norms or symbolic statements?](2006) Numéro thématique «La Charte Québécoise: Origines, Enjeux et Perspectives», Revue du Barreau du Québec 455.

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