UNITED NATIONS, Mar. 28, 2012 -- Members of leading international environmental Non-governmental organizations, Trade Unions, Women's groups and development organizations, met here Tuesday to review critical issues with the Rio+20 draft declaration.
"(We) feel it's our duty to call the attention of relevant authorities and citizens of the world to a situation that severely threatens the rights of all people and undermines the relevance of the UN," read the joint statement released by Oxfam International, Greenpeace International, the International Trade Union Confederation (IUTC), The Council of Canadians, and Women in Europe for a Common Future.
In the open letter addressed to Secretary General of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) Sha Zukang, as well as members of the bureau for Rio+20, and the Member States of the UN, they continued to state "we are witnessing an attempt by certain countries to weaken, or 'bracket,' or outright eliminate all references to human rights obligations and equity principles in the text."
According to the groups, the new proposal for Rio+20 is in direct violation of the proposal set forth in 1992, as it denies the right to food, proper nutrition, the right to safe drinking water and sanitation, the right to development among others.
"I am speaking on behalf of civil society organizations and social movements, who have expressed deep concern toward the attempted deletion of human rights in the Rio+20 outcome documents, " said Anil Naidoo, representative to The Council of Canadians, to reporters. "We want to send a very strong message here; we will not stand by, as a few states challenge the earned and established human rights."
Furthermore, the joint statement notes that some members states are in strong opposition to "prescriptive language that commits governments to actually do what they claim to support," as the risk for privatization of common goods, such as water is increased.
"Unfortunately, what was accomplished in the first Rio conference, 20 years ago, is under threat," said Naidoo. "We believe in the UN, we believe in this processes, but we also believe that civil society has a strong role to play over the next weeks and months, as we move toward Rio."
However, it is not only the basic right to access food and water that is at risk. While the negotiations continue, apparent cuts to basic human rights around the world are being made. "We are outraged, we are in shock about all that's happening in the negotiations," said representative to Women in Europe for a Common Future, Sascha Gabizon. "We know that yesterday, gender equality and women's rights were deleted -- women and the poor need rights, legal rights to protect themselves."
According to Gabizon, the United States "deleted references to gender equity" while the "EU took away the right to water and sanitation," additionally there are talks about other countries denying access to sexual and reproductive rights. An average of 250,000 women, die each year from lack of access to proper healthcare -- deaths that are completely preventable. "We feel that the government should come back and reaffirm that sustainable development should be based on equity, human rights and gender equality -- and are not up for negotiation," said Gabizon.
The Rio+20 Summit is to be held this June, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where prominent leaders of the world will meet in order to develop a sustainable economic future for the international community.