'alternative Nobel' winners call for water rights, global justice
December 7th, 2005
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (CP) - Two Canadian
recipients of this year's Right Livelihood Awards, also known as
the "alternative Nobels," on Tuesday said privatization
of fresh water resources represents a threat to human rights.
"The growing fresh water crisis is perhaps the most urgent
environmental and human rights issue of our times and, for this
reason, water must be preserved as a common heritage," Maude
Barlow, a Canadian activist for fair trade and human rights, told
reporters in Stockholm.
Barlow and Tony Clarke, another Canadian activist, shared the
award worth about $290,000 Cdn with activists from Malaysia and a
group representing the Kalahari Bushmen.
Barlow heads the Council of Canadians, a public advocacy group.
Clarke has campaigned for an alternate trade model that takes
power away from big corporations. Their recent work has focused on
finding trade models that prevent the privatization of water
The award was announced in September. Winners were cited for
promoting justice, fair trade and cultural renewal. Mexican artist
Francisco Toledo won an honorary award.
The awards were founded in 1980 by Jakob von Uexkull, who sold his
valuable stamp collection to recognize work that he believed was
ignored by the prestigious Nobel Prizes.
Barlow and Clarke were cited for "their exemplary and
long-standing worldwide work for trade justice and the recognition
of the fundamental human right to water."
Roy Sesana, the leader of the organization First People of the
Kalahari, was honoured for his fight against authorities wanting
to evict the Bushmen in Botswana from their ancestral lands.
Irene Fernandez, a Malaysian opposition leader and rights activist,
was honoured for her work to stop violence against women and the
abuse of migrant workers.
"The thread of globalization connects peoples all over the
world. But it is the impact of this globalization that tends to
divide and marginalize various communities," she said
Toledo was cited for "devoting himself and his art" to
protect the cultural heritage and environment of his native Oaxaca
region of Mexico. He did not travel to Stockholm, but was
represented by his daughter Natalia Toledo.
The awards will be presented in a ceremony at the Swedish
parliament on Dec. 9, one day before the Nobel Prizes are handed