The right to water and water rights in a changing world

22 September 2010, Delft • Colloquium in the framework of 30 years University for Peace. The topic is very timely: in the face of global changes, what role can law play in safeguarding basic needs and rights, including that of water?

Can law be more effectively mobilized to better protect vulnerable communities against droughts, floods and other climate related disasters? In so doing, to what extend can it contribute to world peace? As laws tend to be rigid, how can they play a more progressive role in a rapidly changing world? Currently water management is stepping away from the idea of stationarity – but what about legal issues? Are they set in stone?


Key-note speakers:

  • Thea Hilhorst (Professor of Disaster Studies, Wageningen University)
  • Joyeeta Gupta (Professor of Environmental and Water Law, UNESCO-IHE)
  • H.E. Barend ter Haar (Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Delegate of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to UNESCO)
  • Juan Amaya-Castro (Senior Research Fellow, Faculty of Law, VU University, Amsterdam and Visiting Professor, Dept. of International Law & Human Rights, University for Peace)

22_Sep_2010_smallProminent scientists knowledgeable on the topic have been invited to trigger the debate, lead by the rector of UNESCO-IHE, Professor András Szöllösi-Nagy.


When: 22 September 2010, 14.00 – 17.30 hrs

Where: UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, the Netherlands


acrobat_icon Programme folder


Registration: Alliance for UPEACE


»Climate change will alter the water cycle - precipitation, water resources availability and water demands. These changes do not only affect water engineering but equally so agreements on water allocation. Rights to water for users at various transboundary levels - from international down to household level - can no longer be considered as fixed. Rather water rights need to be based on flexible principles such as reasonable use.«
Henk van Schaik, Programme Coordinator International, Co-operative Programme on Water and Climate (CPWC)»


Global change leads to hydrological changes which in itself are both cause of and caused by human changes. Population growth is the largest driver here, leading to increased pressure on solidarity and sustainability, the grounding for water rights and rights to water. At the core is possibly the largely neglected right of water: Water’s rights are a key feature to a much-needed new ethos, which starts with social transformation within transversal themes.«
Michael van der Valk, Scientific Secretary, the Netherlands National Committee IHP-HWRP


Update: reports of the colloquium have been published.

acrobat_icon Report (in Dutch) in «UNESCO info», nr 78 (2010), pp 14–15.

acrobat_icon Report (in Dutch) in H2O, the Dutch magazine on water management

acrobat_icon IAHS Newsletter 98 (December 2010) contains a report in English


Update 2:

The publication is available!

acrobat_icon The right to water and water rights in a changing world


Convenors: University for PeaceUNESCO-IHEThe Netherlands National IHP CommitteeCPWCPCCPNetherlands National Commission for UNESCO