By Prof. Elsa M. Bruzzone
Only the people, the country that owns its natural assets, is truly free, independent, autonomous and sovereign. Siren songs lead to destruction, looting, devastation, and death.
Organized by the World Political Forum, directed by MIJAIL GORRBACHOV, and with the collaboration of the European Parliament based on the proposal of the European Institute for Research on Water Policy (IERPE), it was held in BRUSSELS on February 12 and 13, 2009 the "CONFERENCE MAKING PEACE WITH WATER." Among other topics, it addressed “the richest freshwater reservoirs in the world in the XXI Century: CANADA, LATIN AMERICAN CONTINENT and RUSSIA”; the critical situation caused by the contamination of the water resources of the US, INDIA and CHINA, the problems of AFRICA, (sic) and the regions where wars for water exist and will develop: “the MEDITERRANEAN and MIDDLE EAST (from the MEDITERRANEAN to CENTRAL ASIA via PREVIOUS ASIA). "
The reason for this was the development of a WORLD WATER PROTOCOL (PME) to prevent the contamination of water resources and prevent conflicts around ownership and access to water. It will be focused "on the prevention of conflicts, the promotion of the right to water for all and the safeguarding of the world's water heritage (read World Heritage Site) through a responsible and effective management of water, which is a common good." The idea is to establish an inventory of legal and political laws - institutional of a transnational cooperative nature to prevent and resolve conflicts. It aims at the creation of a WORLD WATER AUTHORITY, coordinated with the UN to resolve conflicts, regulate the use of the resource and apply sanctions, to ensure the normative and judicial part, to put limits on the use of water as a commodity. It establishes that the states must assume control of the water, but accepts concessions to private companies.
The PROTOCOL will be presented at the COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE in December 2009 and then in 2013 when a new post-KYOTO Agreement is discussed. From the World Political Forum it has been said that it collects the demands of different world forums, including the Water Forum and the World Water Assembly. Let's do some memory. The World Political Forum was created in 2002 as an organization halfway between the World Economic Forum in Davos and the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre. Former presidents and prime ministers, representatives of the World Trade Organization (WTO), economists, experts on social issues, representatives of non-governmental organizations participate in it. The World Water Forum is organized by the World Water Council (WWC), founded in 1996 by the governments of rich countries and international and transnational organizations with activities in the water sector. Develops global visions for global water supply and advises decision makers on international water policy. Its membership coincides with that of the World Water Board (GWP), also called the Global Water Association, founded in 1997 and which is financially supported by the governments of Europe, Canada, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP ) and the Ford Foundation. Its objective is "to support countries in the sustainable management of water resources", understanding as such the conversion of water into a commodity and the opening of the sector for private actors. Both entities founded at the end of 2001 the World Forum for the Financing of Water Infrastructure (WPFWI) among whose members, apart from transnational water companies such as Suez, we find regional development banks such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD ) and the Asian Development Bank, private banks, and the multinational Thames Water. Former IMF president Michel Camdessus is one of its most important members.
All these actors have developed plans to appropriate the natural assets that their countries no longer possess because they have squandered them, but that nations and peoples of the world do possess. One of these plans has been, using the pretext of the "conservation of nature" and of granting money for the development of this "mission", to try to convince the peoples of the world of the benefits of accepting the concept "Heritage of the Humanity". When an area rich in natural assets such as water, biodiversity, rainforests, forests, minerals and hydrocarbons is declared a “World Heritage Site”, the country to which it belongs loses sovereignty over it. This implies territorial dismemberment and letting "the fox take care of the chickens", since the doors are opened for the exploration and exploitation of goods, under the pretext of "preserving them", to rich countries, world financial and economic organizations and to the transnational companies.
UNESCO reported that there are World Heritage Sites, that is, regions of the world under this designation, with important water value: Angalean Tenge in the Philippines, Angkok in Cambodia, Egyptian Monuments, Xochimilco and the Historic Center in Mexico City, also the city of Potosí in Bolivia. But there are also other Sites: Iguazú Falls in Argentina and Brazil, Perito Moreno Glacier, Valle de la Luna, Valdés Peninsula and Quebrada de Humahuaca in Argentina, Continental Ice in Argentina and Chile. All areas with surface and underground water resources, and minerals. In total there are 166. However; the process is not irreversible yet. Only the political decision of a people and its leaders is enough for the situation to be without effect. Let's not keep buying colored mirrors.
The THIRD SEA CONFERENCE, held between 1973/1982 in New York, Caracas, Geneva, and attended by most of the countries of the world, adopted UN Resolution 2749, which established that the seabed and its mineral resources they are "Common Heritage of Humanity"; and created the INTERNATIONAL SEA FUND AUTHORITY whose mission is to manage resources, made up of 35 countries, and the COMPANY for the exploration and exploitation of minerals, transportation, treatment and commercialization of the same. In 1980 the United States authorized by law North American companies to explore and exploit the mineral resources of the seabed located outside of national jurisdiction and in 1982 it announced that it would not sign the TREATY because it contains unacceptable provisions on the exploitation of the fund's mining wealth. from the sea and is opposed to America's own objectives.
It is worth asking: Who are the countries that possess the economic and technological means necessary to carry out such exploration and exploitation? The answer is obvious: the richest nations. Do the countries and peoples that make up what was once called the "Third World" and today called the "Southern Hemisphere", countries that are developing or underdeveloped, believe that they will share with us the profits from the commercialization of the mining riches of the sea when they are exploited, if they are not already being exploited? Do the countries of the Southern Hemisphere think that at some point they will be able to develop the technological capacity to reach the seabed where these goods are found, extract them and take them to the mainland? Do you think the time will come when you can take part in this widespread exploitation?
The space is a "World Heritage Site". Once again, it is the rich countries, those grouped under the name of the “Group of 7” although sometimes there are eight, the only ones in a position to carry out space explorations. Have they shared and do they share with us their technology, the fruit of their research, all the information they have? Have you invited our peoples to participate in these activities? Have they invited us to be part of the manned space missions? Since when are these great nations that occupy the center of the great world stages willing to share the fruit of these explorations and possible exploitations of the goods of other planets, including the moon, with the rest of the countries? Since when do they have a human face? I don't know him.
The United Nations has its SECURITY COUNCIL that, oh, what a coincidence, it is made up of these nations! When has this COUNCIL voted in favor of the peoples of the "Third World" or the "Southern Hemisphere" or developing or underdeveloped, as they call us, constantly attacked by them, transnational companies and international financial and economic organizations and when no, destabilized and invaded, under false pretenses, by their armed forces, which violate all human rights and commit true war crimes and crimes against humanity against children, women and men, and against those who resist the invasion of their territory because they know that impunity for them does exist? It is enough to turn the pages of recent history to get an idea. Just look at the present: Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine ... A little further back: the ex-Yugoslavia, Vietnam, the African peoples fighting for their independence, the dirty war and the blockade, which continues in the present, against Cuba, the bombing of Libya, the invasion of Granada, and Panama. Without forgetting the attempts to destabilize Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and many countries in Africa, the constant threats to Iran and North Korea; and the bombings of northern Pakistan. And the list goes on.
Resolutions of the UN General Assembly 523 of January 12, 1952, 626 of December 21, 1952, 131 of December 12, 1953 by which the "Permanent Sovereignty Commission on Natural Resources" was created; 1515 of December 15, 1960, which recommends "that the sovereign right of every State to dispose of its wealth and natural resources be respected" and 1803 of December 14, 1962, recognize the inalienable right of countries and peoples over its natural assets. Especially the latter is very clear about it. It establishes that any measure taken with respect to the recommendation of Resolution 1515 “must be based on the recognition of the inalienable right of every State to freely dispose of its wealth and natural resources in accordance with its national interests, and in respect for economic independence. of the States, ”……“ economic and financial agreements between developed and developing countries must be based on the principles of equality and the right of countries and nations to self-determination. "..." ... the provision of economic and technical assistance, loans and increased foreign investment must be carried out without being subject to conditions that conflict with the interests of the State that receives them. "
The exercise and strengthening of the permanent sovereignty of the states over their wealth and natural resources strengthens their economic independence. " It determines in Articles 1: "The right of peoples and nations to their wealth and natural resources must be exercised in the interest of national development and the welfare of the people of the respective State."; 2: that all exploration and development of resources must conform to the rules and conditions imposed by the peoples and nations; 3: that foreign companies will be governed by “current national law and international law” and should not “restrict for any reason the sovereignty of such State over its wealth and natural resources; 4: "The nationalization, expropriation or requisition must be based on reasons or motives of public utility, security or national interest, which are recognized as superior to the mere particular or private interest, both national and foreign ... In any case in that the issue of compensation of origin to a litigation, the national jurisdiction of the State that adopts these measures must be exhausted. ”; 5: "The free and beneficial exercise of the sovereignty of peoples and nations over their natural resources must be fostered through mutual respect among States based on sovereign equality."; 6: "International cooperation in the economic development of developing countries ... will be based on respect for their sovereignty over their wealth and natural resources."; 7: "The violation of the sovereign rights of peoples and nations over their wealth and natural resources is contrary to the spirit and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and hinders the development of international cooperation and the preservation of peace." ; 8: "... States and international organizations must strictly and scrupulously respect the sovereignty of peoples and nations over their wealth and natural resources in accordance with the Charter and the principles contained in this resolution."
They argue that if the PROTOCOL is not approved, the world runs the risk of witnessing the absence of a specific intergovernmental agreement on water at the global level; or on the contrary, it will be the large industrial, commercial, energy and agri-food groups that will regulate the world problems that arise due to the appropriation of the resource. Both premises are absolutely false. The question is who is in a position to overcome all the barriers? Whose large economic, business and financial groups are they? Once again, the wolf dons the sheepskin and it is this protective disguise that allows him, when the time comes, an uncontrolled exploitation of the foreign natural good he wishes to possess.
As I have developed in my book "THE WATER WARS" (Volume I: "A scarce resource in danger", Intellectual Capital, Keys for All, Buenos Aires, 2008) there is universal legislation to prevent conflicts that may arise over water resources transboundary surface areas: The "Convention on the Law of the Uses of International Watercourses for Other Purposes of Navigation" established by the UNITED NATIONS in 1997; and since December 11, 2008, also for shared underground water resources: "United Nations Convention on Transboundary Aquifers", within the framework of the "Draft Convention on Shared Natural Resources".
For its part, the UN International Law Commission has established five Guiding Principles to avoid armed conflicts over shared water resources: 1) Equitable use of the resource. 2) The prevention of significant damage to other states, applied to international courses. 3) The obligation to notify and inform. 4) Cooperative management of shared rivers. 5) The obligation to resolve disputes peacefully. It should be added that “The Geneva Conventions”, adopted in 1949, and their “Additional Protocols”, adopted on June 8, 1977, clearly establish the protection of civilians and property that are considered essential for the survival of the population, including water and hydraulic resources and facilities for civilian use, in any armed conflict.
I do not want to forget the "World Charter for Nature", approved and adopted by the UNITED NATIONS at the 48th Plenary Session of the General Assembly, on October 28, 1982, which also recognizes the full sovereignty of states over their natural assets and warns: "the competition to monopolize scarce resources is the cause of conflicts ..." "... the conservation of nature and natural resources contributes to justice and the maintenance of peace, but this conservation will not be assured until humanity learns to live in peace and renounce war and armaments. ”…“ The principles enunciated in this Charter shall be incorporated as appropriate in the law and practice of each State and shall also be adopted at the international level. ”
On November 26, 2002, the UN, through General Comment 15, established by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, recognized that “water is an indispensable right to carry a life with human dignity and a prerequisite for the realization of other human rights ”. It also affirmed that "the human right to water gives everyone the right to have sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible water at reasonable prices for personal and domestic use." It also determined that governments have the obligation to guarantee access to clean water and adequate sanitation services for the entire population, promote supply for domestic use as a priority, prohibit bankruptcy in existing water supply systems, decide for themselves whether These tasks are implemented publicly or privately and do everything possible so that international financial and economic organizations such as the World Bank, IMF and World Trade Organization (WTO) recognize the human and environmental right to water, which has not happened until today. . The paradox is that the UN itself has defended the water privatization policies. Today there is again consensus that water is not a commodity. The counterpart of these phrases and concepts is that the commercialization of drinking water, bottled, in drums, mineralized, has reached figures that are unimaginable and has reached the most remote regions of the planet. It is a trade that surpasses any other trade fit for human life. Thus we find on the one hand rights, and on the other, the harsh reality that violates these rights.
Access to water is a fundamental human right linked to health and life. It is a social asset, inalienable, which must be the object of public service policies (national, provincial, municipal state, user cooperatives). The State must guarantee as a priority the access of the entire population to water resources; Once this goal is met, it must ensure the necessary water for agriculture and livestock, and lastly for industry. Water, in short, is the heritage of the peoples and countries where the resource is found. And we must not forget that History has shown and shows that the people, the country that does not exercise effective and real sovereignty over its natural assets (water, jungles, forests, biodiversity, minerals, hydrocarbons) to explore and use them for their own benefit, taking care of them so that they can be enjoyed by future generations, in harmony with the earth and nature, it will always be on its knees before international financial and economic organizations, before transnational companies and the imperial power in power. Only the people, the country that owns its natural assets, is truly free, independent, autonomous and sovereign. Siren songs lead to destruction, looting, devastation, and death. Let's not forget. As JOSÉ MARTÍ said: "The trees have to be lined up so that the giant of seven leagues does not pass!"
Professor Elsa M. Bruzzone - Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 2009