Complaint to the UN on violations of the right to water in Chile


CETIM and the Movement for the Defense of Water, Land, and Environmental Protection (MODATIMA) denounced violations of the right to water in the Petorca region of Chile.

The right to water and sanitation is a human right. Indeed, water is essential to human life not only for daily consumption and hygiene but also for food production. In this sense, access, supply, and sanitation of water are indispensable for dignified and decent living conditions.

However, in Chile, the right to water is not formally enshrined in national legislation and is not respected. By granting private actors licenses to exploit the country’s water resources, the Chilean government is generating prolonged and systematic violations of the right to water, particularly in the province of Petorca, known for the production of avocados for export.

On August 20, 2020, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Water and Sanitation, Mr. Leo Heller, issued a statement on the right to water in Chile, following the advocacy work of CETIM and MODATIMA.

His assessment of the respect of this fundamental right is unequivocal. According to the Rapporteur: “The Chilean government does not respect its international human rights obligations if it gives priority to economic development projects over the rights to water and health”. The Rapporteur also made specific recommendations to the Chilean government to remedy this situation.

Petorca, a dramatic situation

Within the framework of the 45th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, CETIM and MODATIMA denounced the water shortage caused by the poor management of this natural resource by the Chilean authorities in the Petorca region. On this occasion, Rodrigo Mundaca, spokesperson for MODATIMA, intervened in the following terms: “We know what it means to live without water, since we live in the national epicenter of the violation of the right to water, here in the province of Petorca, where the production of avocadoes counts much more than the life of our communities, the preservation of ecosystems, the care of our local identities. (…) We have deployed dozens of strategies: mobilizations, actions directed towards the Chilean Parliament, the elaboration of books and an infinite number of debate texts, thousands of forums, national visibility actions in the local, regional, and national media, accompanied by important reports by different press organs. In each of them, the evidence is irrefutable: in Chile, the right to water is systematically violated, which is a determining factor for the realization of all other rights. »

Together, CETIM and MODATIMA have also elaborated a detailed report on this issue. In the future, our two organizations will continue to be committed to ensuring that the Chilean State follows and implements the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur and complies with its international human rights commitments so that Chile guarantees the priority of the defense and promotion of the right to water over private economic and commercial interests.

The communiqué of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Water (in English)

The communication sent by several UN Special Rapporteurs to the Chilean government (in Spanish)

The statement of the spokesperson of MODATIMA (in Spanish)

The detailed report of the CETIM and MODATIMA (in Spanish)

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