The right to water: NSU to host human rights symposium on the importance of water

Written by: Victor Palacios and Stephanie Fleming

On Sept. 16, The Inter-American Center for Human Rights (IACHR) will host “Water: A Human Right,” to discuss the declaration made by the U.N. General Assembly in 2010 that safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right that is essential for life, which 900 million people worldwide do not have access to.

Victor Palacios, co-director of the IACHR, said, “We have put together a very diverse group of professionals in all aspects, whether it be legal scholars, mental health professionals, practicing medical doctors,  human rights organization founders, we attempted to bring everyone to the table to discuss what is an emerging area of debate.”

The IACHR also partnered with various student organizations for the event including NSU’s Student Coalition for Human Rights (SCHR), which was founded a few years ago and has been volunteering in the community at the American Red Cross and aiding the homeless through Hometown Gems, Inc. SCHR members will have the opportunity to meet and discuss their own thoughts on the subject with the Secretary of U.N. Water, Senior Sustainable Development Officer in Water, Energy and Strategies, Kenza Robinson at the symposium.

Stephanie Michelle, director of SCHR, said the organization is grateful to be collaborating with IACHR on such an important issue that affects so many people.

Symposium speakers will address the rights of people to clean water and the obligations of the United Nations to help provide those in need with potable water.

“The students have assembled an ‘all-star’ cast with regard to the presentations.  Every one of the participants will add to our knowledge about Water as a Human Right,” said Charlene L. Smith, professor of law at the Shepard Broad Law Center and the executive director of the IACHR.

Smith said all of the issues pursued by the IACHR are of great importance. She said water is a controversial, international issue that needs to be discussed.

“Many of the ideas about what the subject matter of the symposiums should be come from the law students who are members of the Inter-American Center for Human Rights,” she said. “The most current one on Water as a Human Right is controversial.  Many legal experts consider water as a need but not a legal right.  Others disagree.  Thus, this makes for a very good basis of a symposium.”

The event will be open and free to the community. There will also be a Water Art Fundraiser and attendees will have the chance to bid on art work. The proceeds will go to help supply drinkable water to those in need in places like Somolia.

Palacios, said, “Our aim of the symposium is not only to bring together speakers to discuss a legal and social issue with the hopes of finding alternative solutions but to bring organizations that are at NSU together to accomplish these worthwhile endeavors for the benefit of the students at Nova and the South Florida community in general.”

The event will take place Sept. 16, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and conclude Sept. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Large Lecture Room of the Shepard Broad Law Center.

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