U.S. Civil Rights and Human Rights Groups Say Water is a Human Right

By February 10, 2020February 18th, 2020News & Current Affairs, PAUD Posts, Press Releases / Statements
Water is a human right

U.S. Civil Rights and Human Rights Groups Say Water is a Human Right
Express Solidarity with Struggle for Water Rights in Nigeria

 

February, 10, 2020, New York – The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW) released a Statement today calling for a national and international movement to declare access to water a human right that should not be subject to profiteering by corporate interests. The Statement was released against the backdrop of a rash of water crises that are disproportionately impacting marginalized Black communities across the U.S. and on the African continent. It reads in part:

“From the man-made water crisis and suspension of democracy in Flint, Michigan, the disastrous neglect of the antiquated water system in Newark, New Jersey to the profit, greed-driven privatization of water in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, unaffordable rates and water shut-offs in Baltimore, Maryland, Detroit, Michigan, and other cities across the country, to the diseases harming residents in rural areas because of leaking, corroded septic tanks, Black people have borne the brunt of water injustice in the U.S.”

The Statement was an outcome of a Roundtable of civil rights and human rights organizations on Water as a Human Right convened in Washington, D.C., October 22, 2019 at the request of the Corporate Accountability Project. Akilibode Oluwafemi, Deputy Director of Environment Rights and the Our Water, Our Rights Campaign from Lagos, Nigeria was a Special Guest. He shared with the groups the insidious effort of multinational corporations in collusion with governmental authorities to privatize the public water systems in Nigeria and to criminalize ordinary citizens for drilling for wells as a source of water on communally held lands. Mr. Oluwafemi, who has faced death threats for his uncompromising opposition to privatization schemes, appealed to the organizations at the Table to support Our Water, Our Rights Campaign in its efforts to maintain public water systems in Nigeria. The leaders responded with a strong declaration of support:

Our Water Our Rights Coalition stands as a symbol of the power of people coming together and fighting for a water system that serves their communities instead of corporate interests. Accordingly, we call on the Lagos State Government to abandon its efforts at water privatization and listen to the voices of the people who are demanding a public water system with the investment needed to work for all Lagosians.”

Dr. Ron Daniels, President of IBW and the Convener of the Roundtable, indicated that issuing the Statement was the beginning of a national and international mobilization to declare access to water a human right. “We intend to make the concept of water as a human right and the crises cities and nations are facing a major issue at the forthcoming State of the Race Conference V, tentatively slated for December 2-6, in Newark, NJ (hosted by Mayor Ras. J. Baraka), where we will be discussing strategies for building democratic economies,” Daniels commented. “I hope the Participants at the Conference will agree to reach out to organizers in Flint, MI to explore the possibility of an Emergency National/International Summit on Water as a Human Right in that city in 2021,” he concluded. IBW plans to circulate the Statement widely to national and international press and via social media platforms.

Review the Full Statement on Water as a Human Right with signatories below.


The Institute of the Black World 21st Century (IBW, IBW21)

His Excellency Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu
The Executive Governor of Lagos State
Governor’s Office,
Lagos House Ikeja,
Lagos, NIGERIA

Email Communication

Your Excellency:

The Institute of the Black World 21st Century and the undersigned African American and U.S. based racial justice organizations stand in solidarity with the people of Lagos, Nigeria, and our sisters and brothers on the African continent as we collectively struggle together to achieve the universal human right to clean, safe drinking water.

While our struggles are distinct, they are connected. From the man-made water crisis and suspension of democracy in Flint, Michigan, the disastrous neglect of the antiquated water system in Newark, New Jersey to the profit, greed-driven privatization of water in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, unaffordable rates and water shutoffs in Baltimore, Maryland, Detroit, Michigan, and other cities across the country, to the diseases harming residents in rural areas because of leaking, corroded septic tanks, Black people have borne the brunt of water injustice in the U.S. We must redouble efforts to demand that water is a human right in the U.S. and globally.

At a recent Roundtable discussion on water as a human right with African American leaders in Washington, D.C., we learned about the calculated strategy of multinational corporations to profit from the privatization of water systems in Africa. Nigeria has emerged as the epicenter of this insidious effort. Because of our racial, cultural and historical relationships with the people of Africa, we have a strong commitment to standing in solidarity with the Our Water, Our Rights Coalition in Nigeria. As the people of Lagos, the largest city in Africa, face the ongoing threat of water privatization, the Our Water Our Rights Coalition stands as a symbol of the power of people coming together and fighting for a water system that serves their communities instead of corporate interests.

Accordingly, we call on the Lagos State Government to abandon its efforts at water privatization and listen to the voices of the people who are demanding a public water system with the investment needed to work for all Lagosians. We have requested that the Congressional Black Caucus of the U.S. Congress use its full influence to bring attention to the demands of the Our Water Our Rights Coalition in Nigeria and other community-based grassroots campaigns across the continent. We will defend the right for people to have clean and safe drinking water as a fundamental human right!

Sincerely,


Dr. Ron Daniels, President
Institute of the Black World 21st Century,
Convener, Pan African Unity Dialogue

Signatories

  • Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, President, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Chicago, IL
  • Hilary Shelton, Senior Vice-President for Advocacy and Director on NAACP Washington Bureau, Washington, DC
  • Barbara Arnwine, Esq., President, Transformative Justice Coalition, Washington, DC
  • Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq., President, National Congress of Black Women, Washington, DC
  • Clint Odom, Executive Director, National Urban League Washington Bureau, Washington, DC
  • Rev. Terrence Melvin, President, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Albany, NY
  • Melanie Campbell, President, National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, Washington, DC
  • Dr. Annelle Primm, All Healers Mental Health Alliance, Baltimore, MD
  • Nkechi Taifa, Esq., President, The Taifa Group, Washington, DC
  • Ronnie Galvin, Vice-President for Racial Equity and Democracy Economy, Democracy Collaborative
  • Dr. Seth Hunter, Director of Black Led Organizing and Power Building, Community Change, Washington, DC
  • Mel Foote, President, Constituency for Africa, Washington, DC
  • Milton Allimadi and Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid, Conveners, Pan African Unity Dialogue, Crises in Africa Task Force, New York, NY
  • Ebonie Riley, National Action Network, Bureau Chief, Washington DC

Also See

IBW21

About IBW21

IBW21 (The Institute of the Black World 21st Century) is committed to building the capacity of Black communities in the U.S. to work for the social, political, economic and cultural upliftment, the development of the global Black community and an enhanced quality of life for all marginalized people.