UNUnited Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes

Implementation and Compliance

The implementation of the Protocol on Water and Health requires setting firm targets in the areas defined by paragraph 2 (a) to (n) of the article 6 of the Protocol.

The process of target-setting entails analyzing the national situation, streamlining and harmonizing responsibilities and commitments in water and health. A realistic plan for improvement, with prioritized time-bound targets adapted to the national situation, must be elaborated. When complying with Protocol’s provisions, Parties are encouraged to tailor their targets accordingly to the country-specific problems. The process of setting targets helps focus the attention on the services and actions needed. It creates a platform for discussion and promotes coherence, harmonization and integration between different sectors, bringing together different stakeholders (such as governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the scientific community, the private sector and the general public). Setting targets also provides a vertical communication channel between different levels of administrations (from local to national) and helps translate national targets into the local context.

The progress in setting targets and implementing the Protocol is assessed on the basis of summary reports provided by Parties. According to the article 7 of the Protocol, Parties shall collect and evaluate data on their progress towards the achievement of the targets and on indicators designed to show how that progress has contributed towards preventing, controlling or reducing water-related disease. Parties shall periodically publish the results of this collection and evaluation of this data. Every three years, each Party shall also provide to the joint UNECE/WHO-EURO secretariat and for circulation to the other Parties, a summary report of the data collected and evaluated, as well as an assessment of the progress achieved.

To assist Parties in setting targets, in 2007 a Task Force on Indicators and Reporting was established. The Task Force elaborated the Guidelines on the setting of targets, evaluation of progress and reporting under the Protocol. Moreover, the Task Force developed the format and reporting mechanism under the Protocol.

The first reporting exercise under the Protocol was conducted during autumn 2009/spring 2010. It is expected that it will allow for identifying challenges in implementing the Protocol and therefore guide the future work. Moreover, the reporting exercise will allow for testing the feasibility of the format for the summary reports. The deadline for submission of the summary reports by the countries was set as 31 March 2010.

Article 15 of the Protocol on Water and Health on review of compliance, requires the Meeting of the Parties to establish arrangements for reviewing compliance with the Protocol. The objective of the compliance procedure is to facilitate, promote and aim to secure compliance with the obligations under the Protocol, with a view to preventing disputes. Following this obligation, at their first meeting in January 2007, the Parties adopted the decision 1/2 on review of compliance ( ENG FRE RUS) and elected the first Compliance Committee.

The objective of the Committee is to facilitate and assist Parties in resolving problems, rather than condemning Governments. The general assumption is that a situation of non-compliance with the Protocol by a Party is not the result of its intention to breach the Protocol’s provisions.

One important feature of the Protocol’s compliance mechanism is that it provides for the possibility of members of the public to make communications to the Compliance Committee on cases of alleged non-compliance with the Protocol, which the Committee is then required to deal with. To help the general public understanding the compliance mechanism the Committee elaborated “guidelines on communications from the public”.