By Elodie Tranchez, Ph. D. and David Snow | WaterLex |

WaterLex conducted training sessions on the human right to water and sanitation (HRWS) in San Salvador, El Salvador, for national human rights institution (NHRI) ombudsmen representing Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and El Salvador.

The representatives received two days of training, 24-25 November 2014, on the following topics:

  • the international legal framework for water and sanitation;
  • the obligations of NHRIs and the tools to monitor the right to water and sanitation;
  • the best strategies for success in the constitutionalisation of the right to water and sanitation;
  • international case law about water and sanitation and how to use it as a tool of monitoring;
  • collaboration between NHRIs and civil society groups in relation to the right to water and sanitation.

The event, part of the WaterLex NHRI Initiative for Good Water Governance, was considered especially successful because it fostered the sharing of right-to-water-and-sanitation good practices among nations.

Central America is characterized by the interdependence of its countries, especially in terms of environment, as 36.9 percent of the water in river basins is shared. The region is soon expected to know the difficulties of water scarcity and water quality issues, in particular because of contamination from pollutants left by mining companies.

Dr. Elodie Tranchez addresses media at El Foro del Agua in San Salvador on 26 Nov. 2014.

Dr. Elodie Tranchez addresses media at El Foro del Agua in San Salvador on 26 Nov. 2014.

WaterLex was present at a press conference at which the ombudsmen of Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador produced a declaration recognizing the specific situation of the region, as well as the critical state of hydric goods because of deforestation, over exploitation, and contamination. They called for more protection of the HRWS mainly by the implementation of adjusted national constitutional and legal frameworks.

Participating in “El Foro del Agua” and meeting civil society of El Salvador

San Salvador is highly susceptible to natural disasters and is the second most deforested state in Latin America after Haiti. Because an estimated 90 percent of San Salvador’s surface water is heavily contaminated, the country is struggling with a national clean-water crisis.

As a consequence, Salvadoran civil society, supported by the country’s national human rights institution, is currently on strike in support of a new water law and the constitutional recognition of the HRWS. “El Foro del Agua” (Water Forum), a platform of various national NGOs, is the main leader in the fight.

During a day-long forum meeting on 26 November, the community of Nejapa expressed its concerns over the extreme water poverty it faces because of its proximity to water-intensive industries. The afternoon was devoted to civil society leaders’ evaluation of the current strategies of action and the content of a future water law based on human rights.

Elodie Tranchez, Ph. D., is a WaterLex Legal Desk officer.

Photo at the top of the page: From left, Omar Cabezas, Procurador para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de Nicaragua; H. Roberto Herrera Cáceres, Comisionado Nacional de los Derechos Humanos de Honduras; David Ernesto Morales Cruz, Procurador para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos de El Salvador; Dr. Elodie Tranchez; Jorge Mora Portuguez, President of Freshwater Action Network.

Watch the media coverage:

  • 27 November – Canal Gentevé  – Gentevé Noticias – Urge aprobación de Ley de Aguas – Link
  • 26 November – La Prensa Grafica – PDDH impulsa análisis sobre el derecho al agua – Link

Go to the project page: NHRI Initiative for Good Water Governance

For more information:

WaterLex International Secretariat
Tel: +41 22 907 36 46
Email: info (at)

About WaterLex:

WaterLex is an international public interest development organization and membership association based in Geneva, Switzerland. It is a UN-Water Partner with UN ECOSOC special consultative status. Its mission is to develop sustainable solutions based on human rights to improve water governance worldwide, particularly in regard to consistent water law and policy frameworks. It works with an alliance of interested parties to improve water-governance frameworks, bringing them in line with country obligations under international human rights law. The interested parties are individuals and groups working in government (diplomatic missions), academia (professors of law, researchers), bilateral cooperation (water management advisors), the judiciary (high/supreme courts judges), the UN system (UN-Water family members), and civil society (NGOs that work on water issues). WaterLex works in partnership with 13 universities to continuously enrich the content of the WaterLex Legal Database. The organisation is funded by grants and project financing from public agencies, foundations, private gifts, and in-kind contributions. Established in 2010, when the human right to water was recognised by the UN, the organisation has a secretariat in Geneva with 12 staff members, a supervisory board of directors, and a large pool of members and expert advisors. It is an official partner of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP GWS, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and UNECE, and a member of the board of the Swiss Water Partnership.