Date of publication: 27/10/2020

Recognition of Access to Water as a Human Right (El Salvador)

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The Catholic Church praises the significant step forward for the people of this Central American country.

On October 15th, the Salvadoran Legislative Assembly unanimously approved, with 78 votes in favour and none against, a constitutional amendment recognising water as a public good and human right. According to El Salvador’s legislation, after this session, the amendment will have to be ratified by the next legislature, thus coming into effect as of 2021, after the parliamentary elections.

San Salvador’s Archbishop, Mgr José Luis Escobar Alas, President of the Salvadoran Episcopal Conference, thanked the authorities and expressed the national community’s and the Church’s satisfaction for the approval of the constitutional amendment. As approved by the deputies, the amendment concerns Article 2 of the Constitution, which establishes that water is a human right. Thus, the article guarantees individual and fundamental rights, such as life, physical and moral integrity, freedom, security and work; to these would be added water and its sanitation facilities. In addition, a further amendment was approved, to Article 69, to establish that water is a public good.

The Church’s commitment

In this country, still marked by the figure of Saint Oscar Romero, the Church is committed to social justice and has always advocated for an equitable law concerning the distribution and management of this precious resource, water, which has hitherto been privatized, as in many Latin American countries. President Nayib Bukele stressed this when he was elected. “For over a decade, people have been asking for the urgent approval of a general law on water. Now the same people are tired of the lack of commitment and will to legislate on water”, said Mgr. Escobar Alas on several occasions.

Water privatisation in many countries of Latin America has given rise to serious social conflicts, particularly in Chile and Bolivia. El Salvador could, therefore, be a good model for other countries to follow.

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