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United Nations, Geneva
Photo Credit : Florian Thevenon

The right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation was recognised as a human right by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010 and addressed as two distinct rights in a resolution of the General Assembly in 2015. Governments are obliged to take responsibility to realise Human Rights to Water and Sanitation (HRWS) progressively, and are thus required to take targeted and concrete measures over time to achieve universal coverage. Despite progress reported in terms of access to water and sanitation globally, the full realisation of the HRWS is still far from being realised.

State action is needed in the era of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which can contribute to the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation and to ensure a focus on the poorest, most vulnerable and those furthest behind. The incorporation of HRWS standards and principles into implementation and monitoring processes is necessary. This calls for political framing of international commitments in national contexts.

In today’s Sustainable Development Goals Agenda, the human rights to water and sanitation are embedded, but not assured. WaterLex is working towards mainstreaming of these rights, such that no-one is left behind”  Amanda Loeffen, Director General of WaterLex.


WaterLex has become the “catalyzing link” between human rights mechanisms, academic institutions and development agencies. The credibility of the organization is enshrined in its specialised legal and policy skills relating to the human rights to water and sanitation. WaterLex is strengthened substantially by its members, who are internationally renowned human rights specialists, including several former and current UN and Regional Treaty Body experts, and UN Human Rights Council mandate holders. WaterLex is valued for its expertise in research and assistance on the implementation of the human rights to water and sanitation.

Today, WaterLex is a development organization with UN ECOSOC and Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) consultative status, and UN Water and Global Water Partnership (GWP) Partner status. It is a member of the UNECE expert group on equitable access to safe drinking water and of the UNDP Global Water Solidarity platform and the Swiss Water Partnership (SWP). WaterLex also enjoys governmental support, confirmed by ambassadors to the UN who are supporting the organization. Such political support is crucial to ensure that legal recommendations are brought down to and supported at national levels.

WaterLex promotes water dialogues, improved water cooperation, and brings sustainable water governance to the forefront of the global agenda.