UNECE organized a strategic workshop on future priorities under the Protocol for Water and Health (7-8 March) at the UN Palais. The workshop brought together government representatives of Parties and other States from environment, health and water sectors, as well as water governance experts from the Pan-European region. The objective of the workshop aimed at identifying priorities to inform future work and priorities in the water, sanitation and health domain in the pan-European Region to inform and substantiate the development of the Programme of work for 2017-2019.
WaterLex Executive Director Jean-Benoit Charrin, was invited to address the 80 participants on the subject of “equitable access to water and sanitation: translating the human right to water and sanitation into practice”. In his address, Charrin highlighted the leading role of UNECE in the design of the Equitable Access Score Card. For the future Programme of work under the Protocol, he called for creating synergies between the State Parties reporting obligations under the Protocol and those under the new Sustainable Development Agenda. He also stressed the opportunities for multi-stakeholder dialog on water governance arising from an enhanced capacity of national human rights institutions (See NHRI Water Initiative).
The Protocol on Water and Health to the 1992 Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes is the first major international legal approach for the prevention, control and reduction of water-related diseases in Europe. So far, 36 countries have signed and 24 ratified it. Signatories agreed to establish and maintain comprehensive national and/or local surveillance and early warning systems to prevent and respond to water-related diseases. They also agreed to promote international cooperation to establish joint or coordinated systems for surveillance and early warning systems, contingency plans, and responses to outbreaks and incidents of water-related diseases and significant threats of such outbreaks. WHO/Europe and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) provide the joint secretariat for the Protocol, coordinating activities for its implementation. WHO handles the health aspects, and UNECE the legal and procedural aspects.
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WaterLex is an international public interest development organization 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 85 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 15 staff members, a supervisory board of directors, and a large pool of members and expert advisors. It is an official member of the Global Water Partnership, UNDP Cap-Net, UNDP Global Water Solidarity, UNEP Global Wastewater Initiative, and the Swiss Water Partnership.