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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, a Task Force on Indicators and Reporting was established in 2007, renamed Task Force on Target Setting and Reporting in 2010. 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.

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.

The first reporting exercise under the Protocol was conducted during autumn 2009/spring 2010. It showed that a number of Parties were facing difficulties in implementating the Protocol, in particular with its core obligation to set targets and target dates. To respond to this situation, the Compliance Committee decided at its fifth meeting in June 2010 to enhance its facilitation and assistance functions, and agreed to enter into consultations with a number of Parties. At its sixth meeting in March 2011, the Compliance Committee outlined the main features for a new consultation process geared to help Parties implement their obligations under the Protocol. To help Parties in implementing the provisions of the Protocol, the Committee will, under the auspices of the new consultation process :

-         Assist Parties in developing an accurate analysis of their situation (enabling them to set targets under the Protocol),

-         Provide recommendations to the Parties on how to improve their situation

-         Assist Parties in seeking support from donors, specialized agencies and other competent bodies

Consultations do not have an inquisitive nature, and will be initiated by a request from a Party. Sessions can be held in confidence, if so requested. More information is available at the Terms of Reference of the consultation process adopted by the Committee at its 6th session.

© United Nations Economic Commissions for Europe – 2013