Protection of Water During & After Armed Conflict

The Geneva Water Hub emphasizes the importance of protecting water resources during armed conflicts, as access to water is a fundamental human right.

Ensuring access to water, a fundamental human right, is imperative even in the midst of armed conflict. While International Humanitarian Law provides a solid basis for its protection during the conduct of hostilities, water is rarely spared from the ravages of combat. We understand that the effects of attacks that damage water systems reverberate well beyond the blast zone, and long after the dust has settled. People’s livelihoods may be severely compromised as economic opportunities become scarce, and waterborne diseases abound.

In shielding water resources, we establish a foundation for reconciliation, capitalizing on the shared humanity and interdependence inherent in the life-giving qualities of water.

In our analysis of the legal frameworks to protect water during and after armed conflict, the Geneva Water Hub combines technical, legal and scientific expertise for the development of tools and mechanisms to reduce civilian harm. We also develop the evidence base on the environmental and socio-economic impacts of war and sanctions on water and the human rights to water and sanitation. We are convinced that as we deepen our understanding of the reverberating effects of attacks or damages to water systems, the more foreseeable the impacts become and the more we will be able to prevent the civilian harm.

The Geneva Water Hub promotes the understanding and implementation of legal frameworks and technical knowledge with all those who are engaged in the protection of civilians, including humanitarian and military communities, activists, and water maintenance crews. Guiding these endeavours is the Global Alliance to Spare Water from Armed Conflicts. The Alliance initiates research, training, and dissemination to raise awareness, foster dialogue, and catalyze action to protect water during and after armed conflicts.  

Building Legal Capacity and Knowledge on the Protection of Water from Armed Conflict
The Geneva Water Hub and its Platform for International Water Law promote the dissemination and a better understanding of the legal frameworks protecting water resources and water-related infrastructure during and after armed conflicts. Through our research and trainings, we aim at contributing to the implementation and enforcement of International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law as well as other areas of international law which are relevant for the protection of water in in fragile and post-conflict settings.-
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Lack of Water
Global Alliance to Spare Water from Armed Conflicts
The Global Alliance to Spare Water from Armed Conflicts galvanises efforts to protect the human dignity of the population affected from armed conflicts. The alliance will disseminate existing legal and technical tools for the protection of freshwater and related installations from armed conflicts.-
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Conflid armed
Understanding the Reverberating Effects of Armed Conflict
Urban and rural water services are defined by an interdependency of people, hardware and consumables. These three components are reliant on each other for the proper functioning of the system. In addition, water services are complex and interconnected systems. The cumulative degradation of the system over time adds to its complexity, presenting challenges and incurring significant costs for rehabilitation efforts. -
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