As the major countries in the world continue to exploit their natural resources for short-term personal gain, Slovenia has done the opposite and voted to change the constitution to include drinking water as a basic human right. This comes at a time when the U.S. has pushed to go forward with pipelines that run under bodies of fresh water, posing the risk of eventually contaminating it, and when many developing nations have little to no access to clean drinking water nearby.
The amendment passed in the Slovenian Parliament with a vote of 64-0; members of the Slovenian Democratic Party, which are reportedly liberal-conservative, abstained from voting altogether because they said the move was “nothing but PR.” The party argued that it was done in an effort to sway public opinion.
“Slovenian water has very good quality and, because of its value, in the future it will certainly be the target of foreign countries and international corporations’ appetites. As it will gradually become a more valuable commodity in the future, pressure over it will increase and we must not give in,” said center-left Prime Minister Miro Cerar.
Those in favor of the amendment said that the move was done in an effort to send a message to those wishing to exploit Slovenia’s water sources, as is so often done in other nations around the world. Before that pressure builds, the nation wanted to show that they are firmly against the commercialization of their fresh water sources.
“Everyone has the right to drinkable water,” Slovenia’s constitution now reads. “Water resources represent a public good that is managed by the state. Water resources are primary and durably used to supply citizens with potable water and households with water and, in this sense, are not a market commodity.”
Despite this positive move, some remain critical of the nation’s intentions and the government needs to do more by ensuring access to clean drinking water for all of their citizens rather than settling for this amendment.
Of the two million citizens of Slovenia, about 10,000 to 12,000 people still lack access to drinkable water, according to Amnesty International. The organization expressed concern and hoped that the law would extend to those in need of clean water.
“Enshrining access to drinking water as a constitutional human right is an important legal step forward for Slovenia, but Roma communities need more than legal changes. Action is now needed to ensure the changes flow down to all those without water and sanitation,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director.
Slovenia isn’t the first country around the world to declare water a human right, but it’s the first European country to include it in their constitution. This is a major first step and absolutely is something that all other nations should be doing to ensure the health and safety of all their citizens.
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