The systematic violation of the right to water in Chile


45th session

CETIM and the Movement in Defense of Water, Land and Environmental Protection (MODATIMA), an active movement in defense of the right to water in Chile, collaborated in the framework of the 45th session of the UN Human Rights Council to denounce the violations of the right to water in the region of Petorca (Chile).

The province of Petorca, in the region of Valparaiso, is a region that symbolizes the effects of commodification of the waters that are used and prioritized for the avocado export business. This business is closely related to the interests of large transnational corporations. A situation that represents great profit opportunities for the agribusiness, at the expense of the supervening life of the communities and nature. The consequences of this situation extend throughout the national territory, with a water management model in crisis of scarcity, with 80% of the country’s basins over granted due to water overexploitation by private actors.

Among the international standards in force, it should be recalled that on the 28th of July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 64/292, which recognized the right to water and sanitation as a human right. However, in Chile the right to water is far from being enshrined in the national legal framework (Political Constitution and Water Code), and is violated in the reality of the extensive national territory, representing a situation of prolonged and systematic violation of the human right to water and sanitation. This fact is not acceptable, especially since the Chilean state has signed and ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

It should also be remembered that on the 20th of August 2020, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Water and Sanitation, Mr. Leo Heller, issued a press release on the issue of the right to water in Chile.

His assessment of the respect of this fundamental right in the country is unqualified. According to the Rapporteur, “the Chilean government is not complying with its international human rights obligations if it gives priority to economic development projects over the human rights to water and health”.

Human rights are the result of the tireless struggle of peoples to achieve decent and adequate living conditions for all humanity. Water, being essential for human beings, is intimately related in terms of access, supply, potability, and use for working the land, to the development of life in decent and dignified conditions.

CETIM and MODATIMA have been working on the situation in Petorca in order to reflect the dramatic situation regarding the violation of this fundamental right and to support the tireless struggle conducted by the people in the field. During this joint work, a detailed report on the situation of the right to water in the region of Petorca was elaborated : read the Spanish version here or the French version here.

CETIM and MODATIMA will pursue the fight for the defense of this fundamental right. In this sense, the Chilean State must follow and implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur and guarantee the priority to the defense and promotion of the right to water over private economic and commercial interests.

Read the oral statment made by MODATIMA and CETIM (in Spanish)

Watch the video (subtitled in English) of the reading of the declaration projected at the HRC



Categories Articles Chile COUNTRIES Economic, Social and Cultural Rights News Right to development Statements
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