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NHRIs focus on good water governance for the Asia Pacific

Graphic: Participants at the 2015 SEO Network Meeting

Promoting access to safe and affordable water and sanitation was a focus of the 2015 APF roundtable meeting for senior executive officers.

With water-related challenges and conflict expected to escalate in the Asia Pacific over the coming decades, senior executive officers from 18 APF members recently gathered in Kuala Lumpur to consider the role that national human rights institutions (NHRIs) can play.

Two days of discussions were set aside during the annual Senior Executive Officers Network meeting, held on 3-5 November 2015, to consider the causes and consequences of poverty and a lack of access to safe water and sanitation.

A common issue raised by representatives was the scarcity of affordable water in many countries, driven by the demands of population growth, increased urbanization, economic development and agricultural use.

The discussions were led by WaterLex, an international non-governmental organisation, in partnership with the APF, the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the South African Human Rights Commission.

In addition to sharing examples of good practice – most notably the experiences of South Africa's NHRI – APF representatives received training on a number of key topics, including:

  • The international legal framework for human rights-based water governance
  • The tools available to NHRIs to monitor the right to water and sanitation
  • International case law relating to water and sanitation and how to use it as a tool of monitoring
  • Collaboration between NHRIs and other actors, such as civil society groups.

The discussions were linked to the APF's strategic priority regarding business and human rights, along with the human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals, which was the focus on the 12th International Conference of NHRIs in October 2015.

Woman sits with plastic containers of water

Additional information is available on the WaterLex website about the two-day program for APF members, which is part of the National Human Rights Institutions Initiative for Good Water Governance.

In addition to identifying practical steps their NHRIs can take on water and sanitation, participants at the Senior Executive Officers Network meeting:

  • Discussed a range of challenging management issues and how they had addressed them
  • Shared approaches to monitoring the implementation and impact of programs delivered by their respective NHRIs
  • Exchanged policies and resources regarding codes of conduct for Commissioners and staff.

The information and experiences shared by the Senior Executive Officers Network will assist the APF secretariat in planning future roundtable meetings and the proposed development of a resource on management issues for NHRIs.

Date: 23 November 2015

Image credits

  1. Woman sits with plastic containers of water - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Flickr; http://bit.ly/21iT8NQ