Iceland UN Rep Defends Water Rights Vote - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Iceland UN Rep Defends Water Rights Vote

Published July 30, 2010

Gunnar Pálsson, Iceland’s representative to the UN, defended his decision to abstain from voting on a proposal declaring access to clean water a basic human right.
As reported, 122 countries voted in favor of the proposal, and none voted against it. However, a number of nations abstained, including Iceland, along with Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Sweden, the United States, and others.
Movement MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir sent an e-mail to Foreign Affairs committee chairman Árni Þór Sigurðsson demanding an explanation for the vote. Specifically, she asked if it was the platform of the Icelandic government that access to clean water is not a basic human right, and why such matters are not voted on in parliament before being taken before the United Nations.
Gunnar defended his decision, telling Eyjan that he and other national representatives had decided to abstain because they are waiting on the Human Rights commission in Genf to finish the work that they’re currently engaged in with regards to clean water, and then vote on that, rather than cast in vote in favor of a “political proposal”.
Gunnar added furthermore that Iceland is a signatory of the Millennium Development Goals, which includes the goal that the number of households without access to clean water be reduced by 50% by 2015.
What harm would be done by voting for the initial proposal – which called for everyone to have access to clean water – was not stated.

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