Who are we and what do we do?

WaterLex is a non-governmental organisation (NGO), established in 2010 after the UN General Assembly resolution to support the human rights to water and sanitation (HRWS), and before the Sustainable Development Agenda Goals (SDGs) were introduced. Through expert legal staff and a distinguished membership, WaterLex has developed research and capacity enhancement tools to secure sustainable use and universal access to safe water and sanitation.  Multi-stakeholder engagement with National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), parliamentarians, water authorities, development and civil society organisations, and international organizations enables WaterLex to catalyse legal and policy reforms and increase accountability.

As more organisations have engaged with the HRWS, WaterLex has realized that its added value as an expert organisation lies in developing activities leading to a practical outcome. This step-change in activity uses evidence-based consortium approaches to test policies at a more holistic community and river basin level, monitoring the results with human rights-sensitive indicators, and then translating these benefits into local and national policy. Most of our programmes now have this community-based (bottom up) approach integrated with our top down expertise and engagement. The combination allows WaterLex to bring higher levels of influence in governance reform.

Our Origins

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 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 “catalysing 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.

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