New President of WaterLex Board Looks Ahead
WaterLex Board of Directors member Eibe Riedel (pictured with outgoing President Maria Francisca Ize-Charrin) was elected president of the board at the organisation’s General Assembly meeting in Geneva on Saturday, May 3. He offered answers to some of our initial questions, below.
Q: What do you consider to be the next (or ongoing) legal challenges for the water sector?
A: The issues of trans-border water management continue to gain in importance. Multilateral and bilateral agreements need to be strengthened to cover the needs of upstream and downstream water users. Sustainable water utilization and studies in joint management of water resources with wider consideration of good practices should be addressed. Interaction of UN mechanisms and regional and national, and even sub-national mechanisms ought to be developed further.
Q: Given your long involvement with the human right to water (e.g., as author of General Comment 15), what opinions do have about its recent evolution?
A: Awareness of water and sanitation issues and inter-linkages of water problems and environment protection issues have increased enormously. Since General Comment 15, policy, programmes and strategies for better water usage have been developed and put into practice in many countries. The realization of the right to water and the right to sanitation has made some progress, both at the macro- and micro-levels, but much still needs to be done.
Addressing the dimensions of availability, accessibility, affordability and quality of safe and potable drinking water, particularly at the local and regional national levels, remains a huge task to be achieved. With ever-growing population increases in conurbations, the need to provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities particularly for the most marginalized and disadvantaged groups of society is a prime challenge that requires many efforts from national and international institutions.
Work on the elaboration of indicators and benchmarks for the human right of access to water remains an urgent task that should be tackled with priority in the coming years, and should be a coordinated effort that takes on board existing indicator tables for other economic, social and cultural rights. Coordination of agreed indicator tables is a prerequisite for ensuring the acceptance by States who ultimately have to implement the right to water and right to sanitation at the national levels. Monitoring compliance with human rights standards at the international, regional and national levels requires the elaboration of clear, easily applicable and sufficiently differentiated structural, process and outcome indicators that can then be applied by States in preparing their reports, guide civil society organizations in their critical review of State performance in those fields, and also helps treaty bodies in their monitoring practice. Preparation of handbooks, guidelines, and toolkits should continue to be a key focus of work on the rights to water and sanitation.
Q: As a WaterLex board member now assuming the role of president, what do hope to see the organisation accomplish in the near- and long-terms?
A: WaterLex is clearly on the right track in addressing key issues of concern in relation to the right to water. Country analyses with comparative studies should continue to be developed and made available to other countries facing similar problems. As president of the board, I will try to follow the balanced approach adopted by my predecessor, Maria Francisca Ize-Charrin, and through continued close cooperation with her will try to ensure that the good work and results achieved so far will continue.
For more information:
WaterLex International Secretariat
Tel: +41 22 907 36 46
Email: info (at) waterlex.org