San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Movement to Guarantee Access to Water Swells

Costa Rica’s Ombudswoman’s Office urged the Legislative Assembly to declare the country’s water a part of the public domain, and grant it constitutional protection.

In recent weeks, the Legislative Assembly has been debating a reform to Article 121 of the Constitution to include access to clean drinking water as a basic human right and guarantee all citizens access to the resource.

“(We) consider it necessary to elevate the definition of water as a part of the public domain to a constitutional level … in order to effectively implement, manage and safeguard the right to water as fundamental to dignity, human life and public health,” the Ombudswoman’s office said in a statement Wednesday.

Over the last seven days, legislators from the Citizen Action Party (PAC), the Libertarian Movement Party (ML), and the National Liberation Party (PLN) have announced their support of the declaration, but they have yet to agree on how to word the provision.

The Ombudswoman’s request comes on the same day that the United Nations General Assembly in New York unanimously approved a Bolivian-proposed resolution to declare access to water a human right. This decision – which earned 122 yeas and no nays – is not legally binding, but the UN urged member nations to provide funding and resources to boost worldwide access to clean drinking water.

–Mike McDonald

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