Newly established Global Alliance aspires to better protect water in armed conflicts

During the 2024 Protection of Civilians Week, Slovenia, Switzerland and Geneva Water Hub launched the Global Alliance to Spare Water from Armed Conflicts. As UN Member States reflected upon the Secretary General’s annual report on the protection of civilians, the impact of armed conflict on freshwater and water-related installations gained significant attention. New initiative is supported by Costa Rica, Jordan, Indonesia, Mozambique, Panama, Senegal, Viet Nam, UNICEF, PAX and Geneva Call.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his annual report cautioned: »Conflict triggered and aggravated water scarcity. The destruction, damage and disruption – sometimes deliberate – of water services, combined with the impact of climate change and years of disrepair, left millions without safe water, causing contamination of water sources, the outbreak of deadly infectious diseases and the risk of malnutrition.”

The impact of armed conflict on freshwater, water-related installations and other essential services is severe and long lasting, and poses grave humanitarian, development and environmental challenges. While all civilians are affected by disruptions in access to water and sanitation during conflict, children, women, and older persons, are particularly vulnerable.

Recognizing the need for increased international mobilization on the protection of civilian water infrastructure during armed conflict, the Republic of Slovenia, the Swiss Confederation and the Geneva Water Hub, in collaboration with partners, have laid the foundation for the Global Alliance to Spare Water from Armed Conflicts.

Ambassador Božena Forštnarič Boroje, Director-General for Multilateral Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia underlined the centrality of international humanitarian and human rights law at the launch of the Global Alliance: “Attacks on objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population are never justified and remain a grave breach of International Humanitarian Law. Water and sanitation should never be targets of warfare.”

As presented at today’s event, held at the UN Headquarters in New York, the Alliance will  serve as a platform for coordination among member states, policy practitioners, civil society and academia to facilitate the exchange of knowledge on conflict-related damage to water resources, raise awareness about its consequences for civilians, identify opportunities to strengthen legal and policy gaps, and support relevant stakeholders in their implementation.

Learn more about the Global Alliance here.

Watch today’s even again at the UN Web TV here.

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