Pictured above: All the participants in the panel: Huda Abdullah, Cynthia Bleu-Lainé, Osman El Hajjé, Marie-Thérèse Pictet Althann and Hani Al-Aswadi.

WaterLex participated in a panel at a side event organised by Ius Primi Viri International Association, at the United Nations on Wednesday 19th September. The event, titled “The Right to Water in Humanitarian Situations”, discussed the human right to water and the issues of water access in particularly vulnerable situations of humanitarian crises. Mrs. Marie-Thérèse Pictet Althann moderated the event, with Prof. Osman El Hajjé presenting the opening remarks. The panellists then discussed different aspects of this issue and the ways we can, and must, act on urgently to be able to solve these issues in order realise the human right to water. Cynthia Bleu-Lainé, Programme Manager (Africa Region) represented WaterLex, and among the panellists were also Mr. Hani Al-Aswadi, Human Rights Defender, and Ms. Huda Abdullah, Activist and Human Rights Defender.

The Sustainable Development Goal on Water (SDG 6) reiterates access to clean water and sanitation without discrimination by 2030, reinforcing the need to realise this right. SDG 6 highlights the overarching principle of “Leaving No One Behind”, that the Agenda’s Goals and targets should be met for all nations and people and for all segments of society, and we should endeavour to first reach those who are furthest behind. Much remains to be done to enable the targeting and prioritization of disadvantaged sectors, areas and groups.

Panellists engaged in discussion. From the left: Cynthia Bleu-Lainé, Osman El Hajjé, Marie-Thérèse Pictet Althann and Hani Al-Aswadi.

The WaterLex methodology and approach was presented, which involves legal research and inclusive field water governance mappings as the foundation of projects and programmes. She explained that “this research then leads to creation of tools and training materials for knowledge sharing for water governance stakeholders, and development of activities for a practical outcome”. The level of accountability often being a key factor to improve access to water and sanitation was emphasised, for which capacity building is necessary. Without it, most countries with low baselines will not be able to meet the SDG targets.

Part of WaterLex’s role as a catalyst for change is organising workshops in various regions of the world, to promote capacity building and the incorporation of the human rights to water and sanitation standards and principles into implementation and monitoring processes. In these interactive workshops we bring together representatives from public offices and national ministries, non-governmental organisations and local communities to promote water dialogues, improve cooperation, as well as provide training. With this integrated and interactive approach to research, policy recommendations and programming, we can improve the cooperation within and between countries and effectively implement sustainable solutions that will realise the human rights to water and sanitation.