Background Briefing



• The tradition of having “housing and lands rights days” during the week of UN-World Habitat Day is to be repeated this year.

• Decision at HIC Board Meeting in Nairobi to develop an international campaign for 2007.

• WSF- Urban Spot organizations decide on a Global Day of Action in relationship to HIC campaign.

• Alternative G-8 meeting catalyzes international campaign activities and a process whereby more organizations become involved in international campaign.

• Campaign will now extend from October 2007 to January 2008 to coincide with WSF January 26 Campaign.

• Activities in Asia, Germany, letter by President Enrique Ortiz and wg-listserv all demonstrate campaign movement.

UN-World Habitat Day

Traditionally UN Habitat launches a “World Habitat Day” every first Monday of October. Besides a few conferences they sponsor directly in partnership with governments, they call states and NGOs to organize additional meetings, focused on themes that are specific for each year.

This year’s theme is “A safe city is a just city” which mixes up concerns regarding urban crime, insecurity of tenure and disaster threats. Main events will take place in Den Hagg (NL) and Monterrey (Mexico).

In the last 3 years it has been HIC’s tradition to launch calls for worldwide independent action in October. These campaigns are called “housing and land right days.” They do not reflect the official UN Habitat events, but rather are based on local movements and organizations and their priorities.

At the same time, the International Union of Tenants (IUT) traditionally calls for a World Tenants’ Day and the International Alliance of Inhabitants (IAI) calls for “Zero Eviction Days.”

Last year HIC Europe, No Vox/DAL, IAI and a Greek group agreed on a common call for Europe at the occasion of the ESF in Athens. The point of this call is fundamental for common orientation, at least in Europe:

“We demand that governments and public institutions in Europe”

1. Implement the right to decent, sustainable housing for all, without discrimination, and that this right has legal enforcement;

2. Defend and develop:

– public and not for profit housing sectors, which are democratically controlled;

– public space and public urban planning;

– public services such as water, public transport and energy.

3. Regulate the real estate market and rental housing to put a stop to speculation, privatization and high costs;

4. Halt forced evictions and the destruction of popular neighborhoods and shantytowns against which we reaffirm the rights of inhabitants to resist.

HIC Decision at Board Meeting in Nairobi, January 2007

At HIC board meeting and general assembly, January 2007 in Nairobi, HIC decided to launch a new campaign for “housing and land right days.” The general assembly affirmed that the bad consequences of economic globalization should be a focus. Attention to environmental issues such as in the context of water privatization and the MDG 7 targets was also discussed.

An idea was to proceed from a general awareness campaign to a campaign with real goals and targets.

Another group discussed improvements for presentations at the action days based on the experiences with last years “housing rights violation map.” It was proposed, that the HIC GS in cooperation with the bodies and members develops a set of posters, which show – by pictures, graphics and very short texts: (1) examples for forced evictions and other violations of housing rights, (2) structures behind these violations, (3) examples for “successes” through public mobilization as well as for alternatives.

HIC board decided on the following to build a campaigning committee: Michael Kane (coordinator), Lorena Zarate, HLRN representative, Nellie Agingu, Knut Unger, Rabial Mallick and HIC-GS.

World Social Forum – Urban Spot

In Nairobi, at the International Council meeting on January 26 it was decided that WSF process 2008 will be characterized by a Global Day of Mobilization, which will consist in a decentralized set of simultaneous activities conducted regionally and/or locally all over the world. Themes and activities selected should be such that all sectors and sections can participate.

At a meeting of the “urban spot” at WSF Nairobi (HIC. IAI, AITEC and others) the organizations agreed to call a Global Day Action for International Housing and Land Rights (same date as Habitat Day, Monday, October the first, 2007). Proposals included action against forced evictions, speculation and privatization.

Also, on June 1, at the occasion of the WSF International Council, “urban spot” published a collective call:

“We, inhabitants, social organizations and networks, solidarity authorities, as part of the World Social Forum Mobilization January 26th 2008, call for a global Housing Campaign from Oct2007 to Jan2008, struggling against:

· Evictions and any deprivation of housing and land rights

· Financial speculation and the corruption

· Negative effects of the privatization of land, housing, water and public services

We struggle for:

· the inclusive city

· the housing in dignity and in affordability

· the security of tenure

· the sustainability of our environment.”

Alternative G-8: Rostock, Germany

At the occasion of the G8 protests and alternative events in Rostock in June No Vox, HIC and activists from affiliated organizations and movements from Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Catalonia, France, Germany, India, Japan, Portugal and Switzerland met to discuss the campaign. In a participatory process participants proposed action

• for the concrete realization of the right to housing and cities for all,

• against forced evictions of peoples’ settlements, squats and social centres,

• against real estate speculation and real estate violence;

• against commodification and privatisation of housing land and services,,

• for the collective recuperation of vacant housing, land and social centres,

• for the promotion of alternative self controlled solutions for housing the homeless,

• against destruction of social security systems.

• Actions should have good media impact.

At the meeting it was agreed that we should have a WEEK of action the first week of October.

The meeting confirmed that the local groups must define their type of action according to their priorities. However, a couple of people were enthusiastic with the idea of combined squats (real or symbolical) with action against international speculators.

It was also decided that a call for action should be circulated and signed by supporting groups. No Vox wants to send a draft to the participants.

Asia & LOCOA

Community organizations in Asia (LOCOA and others) agreed to organize street actions in several cities (for instance in India) on October 1st.

Meeting of Latin American Secretary of Popular Housing, Buenos Aires

At a meeting of the Latin American Secretary of the Popular Housing (Secretaría Latinoamericana de la Vivienda Popular), held in Buenos Aires at the beginning of May, with the participation of many HIC members and other organizations and networks from some 12 LA countries the Habitat Day Campaign and the possibility to make some parallel occupations (empty buildings and urban land) on that day/week.

Activities in Germany

In Germany, misereor in cooperation with habitat netz is preparing a conference and public event on forced evictions and it’s reasons. The core will be two days workshop on effective strategies with participation from HLRN, COHRE, Miloon Kothari, organizers from the south, Europe and German NGOs. Oct. 1 CORDAID plans something in Den Haag.

Letter by HIC President Enrique Ortiz

In a draft letter HIC president Enrique Ortiz called for an improved integration of slogans “The exclusion, inequality, poverty, devastation of nature, and environmental deterioration profoundly affecting human habitat today, all originate in the same causes, related to global processes of accumulation of financial resources and power in fewer and fewer hands. Privatization, evictions, increasingly precarious housing, lack of access to basic services and facilities, environmental deterioration, and criminalization of those affected by these circumstances, deny enjoyment of human rights by large and growing masses of the world population. (..) The HIC campaign must be capable of mobilizing all the HIC regions and networks and, as recommended at the Nairobi meeting, activate and reinforce the Habitat and Sustainable Environment Network at the international level. It is therefore key to link social, economic and environmental aspects in the campaign’s specific contents and slogans.” “It is important that we advance in our integrated and complex handling of these themes. To develop these abilities, within and in accordance with each region and local context, we should produce and broadly exchange among ourselves our demands, protests, and proposals, going beyond simplified and homogenized schemes.”

Activity of List-serv

During the last few weeks the HIC wg on globalization exchanged more ideas. Among them:

• Reactions to the official Un Habitat Slogan. We say: “Only just cities are safe cities.”

• Coincides with examples of repression against popular movements in Nairobi in the name of UN Habitat safe cities program.

• Focus on property policies to regularize informal settlements promoted by the High Level Commission on the Legal Empowerments of the Poor.