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The National Human Rights Institutions Initiative for Good Water Governance is dedicated to enhance the role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in monitoring water governance. It envisages a more prominent role of NHRIs in relation to the right to water, and as a result in broader water governance.

The initiative is an open call for collaboration to all interested NHRI parties who wish to strengthen their role in the advancement, promotion and protection of the right to water and related human rights, thereby contributing to an enhanced human rights-based water governance. The initiative also wishes to attract NHRIs who — via their active role with regards to the right to water — are already in a position to share valuable experiences, practices, tools or resources, along with supporting those NHRIs whose position in investigating, promoting and protecting human rights is currently relatively limited.

The objectives of the initiative are twofold: 1) to create a network of NHRIs that can exchange experiences and best practices with each other; 2) to support and build the capacity of NHRIs to strengthen their role in ensuring a human rights based approach to water governance. This initiative is grounded in a human rights-based approach which accords prominence to the minimum legal standards for water governance. It is addressed to NHRIs throughout the world irrespective of geographical location. The initiative strives to achieve the following outcomes:

  • to establish a network of interested NHRIs;
  • to establish a community of practice and experiences along with an online platform for sharing information/ tools/resources/ best practices;
  • to provide trainings and other capacity building activities in relation to right to water to interested NHRIs who currently have a limited role in water governance;
  • to provide support to existing monitoring practices;
  • to provide support to NHRIs´ research needs;
  • work together to investigate, promote and protect the human right to water.

WaterLex has accomplished the following activities to achieve these outcomes:

  • Publication of the NHRIs good practices compilation, which identifies, gathers and documents important knowledge about the practices, challenges, key factors in successes, and important lessons to be learned in activities undertaken by NHRIs in relation to water governance.
  • Publication of a training manual that provides NHRIs with a deeper understanding of the legal content of the human right to water and sanitation, for them to better promote and protect water governance for the realisation of human rights.
  • Launch of the NHRI Water Initiative Common Platform, a private platform that allows member institutions to have a peer-to-peer exchange, share knowledge and good practices, and have access to training resources and capacity building tools.
  • Capacity building activities in various regions and countries.

To learn more about the initiative, please read this brochure and concept note outlining its objectives, main expected results and activities foreseen.

Read the invitation letter of the Hungarian NHRI (Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations) explaining his reasons to support the initiative.

How to join? In you need further information or wish to join the initiative, we are pleased to receive your inquiry. You may fill out this Letter of intent to support, and return it to WaterLex at NHRI(AT)Waterlex.org.

How to receive training? Please see this page to get the forms and information needed.

Contact: For more information, please contact NHRI(AT)Waterlex.org or call WaterLex at +41 22 907 36 46.


2015-2016 News:

WaterLex Training: “Water Governance and Human Rights” for NHRIs, and other organizations

NHRI Water Initiative Common Platform Launched

National Human Rights Institutions Water Initiative Training Manual Published

19 NHRIs Trained on Good Water Governance in Kuala Lumpur

Presentation of the WaterLex National Human Rights Institutions Initiative for Good Water Governance

Right to Water and Sanitation: WaterLex Trains NHRIs of Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa and Uganda

WaterLex Trains Reps From Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and El Salvador on the Right to Water and Sanitation


The Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations in cooperation with WaterLex launched this Initiative during a side event organised by the at the Budapest Water Summit on 10 October 2013.

Initiative Implementation Steps, 2013-2014

1. Launching the initiative: side event at the Budapest Water Summit on 10 October 2013

The Deputy Commissioner for Fundamental Rights of Hungary (Hungarian NHRI) together with WaterLex organised a side event at the Budapest Water Summit devoted to the role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in water governance. This Side-Event launched the NHRIs Water Initiative on advocating a more prominent role of NHRI’s in water governance. At this occasion, Mr Leandro García Silva of the NHRI of Argentina (Defensoría del Pueblo de la Nación) delivered a video message advocating his support to the initiative.

2. NHRIs training in Copenhagen on 14 October 2013

WaterLex undertook a training workshop on understanding the right to water and sanitation entitled “Contributing to the Realization of the  Human Right to Water and Sanitation : The Role of NHRIs” in the framework of a course organised by the Danish Institute for Human Rights on 14 October 2013 in Copenhagen. The training was targeted to NHRIs in Africa with respect to economic, social and cultural rights. The NHRI water governance initiative was presented in this framework whereby several NHRI indicated their willingness to be part of the initiative.

3. NHRIs training in Mexico on 15-16 October 2013

WaterLex represented by Executive Director Jean-Benoit Charrin delivered a training session on 15-16 October 2013 on the right to water and sanitation addressed to the NHRI of Mexico. Link to article in the local newspaper Periódico Zócalo.

4. NHRI Water Initiative Meeting in Geneva on 13 March 2014

The Hungarian Ombudsman for Future Generations (Hungarian NHRI) and WaterLex organised a Side-Event on 13 March 2014 in Geneva (Switzerland) to present their join initiative on National Human Rights Institutions and good water governance at the UN Palais des Nations. The meeting brought together NHRI representatives from around the world along with delegates of Geneva-based diplomatic missions. This event provided an opportunity to present the NHRI water initiative to NHRI representatives and to discuss challenges and best practices of NHRIs across the globe in promoting the human right to water.