Security of Tenure as a Measurable Element of the Human Right to Adequate Housing

Conclusion: Human Rights as the Tools of Statecraft

This paper has attempted to elaborate the concept of secure tenure within its human rights frame. It proposes to apply (1) moral suasion, (2) standards of human rights law and (3) data-gathering techniques used by human rights monitors. It also places the onus on States to ensure “progressive realization” of the human right to adequate housing. The jurisprudence recognizes that full realization would involve a combination of immediate and gradual measures, as called for by ICESCR.

Expanding the concept of secure tenure is a useful intellectual exercise that helps identify the contours of an ideal world. Applying the concept now calls for a simplified adaptation of the inquiry presented here (in Part V). That application should strike a balance between adapting to the available statistics and existing data-collection capacities of States and governments, on the one hand, and promoting new kinds of data collection, on the other hand, to fill the information gaps that existing systems without a human rights approach have left (e.g., disaggregation of data and quantifying losses and costs arising from violations). Assessing what data need to be captured and determining the responses to them will require both official and nongovernmental efforts, including those carried out in the context of international cooperation. The process also enables the convergence of human rights advocates with development technicians toward the common pursuit of human well-being by fulfilling the human right to adequate housing, with secure tenure as a key element. Probably, the best hope for such multiparty effort lies in cooperation with the UN agencies, which, by definition, operate under the criteria and principles of UN treaties and other multilateral agreements. According to the legal theory, human rights obligations are paramount among them. Logically, the human rights treaty-monitoring bodies serve as vital partners in the process.

Historically, human rights defenders of victims, including indigenous peoples and minorities, have observed the State not only as the legal duty holder, but also, typically, as the most-frequent and most-forceful violator. They have long considered a vision of the world in which the State system, as we know it, would give way to some post-statalist formulation. That alternative would enable the emergence of a more-equitable and, therefore, more-legitimate structure for public administration. Even in his time, Aristotle, who appreciated well the nexus of economics and ethics, viewed “the end of the State” as synonymous with the “common promotion of a good quality life.” But globalization as we are coming to know it, with the characteristic “withering away” of the State in favor of lawless global actors, was not exactly what we had in mind. The lessons and open questions we are facing today bring us to at least one basic conclusion: the future is not what it used to be.

At this juncture, we find ourselves caught on the horns of a historic dilemma: globalization forces have challenged the legitimacy and authority of the State as no other force of history. What is at stake is the State’s ability to meet its unique obligation to ensure the well-being of its own citizens and, ultimately, to stand up against global threats. One remarkable feature of our common era finds human rights advocates, and particularly the monitors of economic, social and cultural rights, posing practical solutions that call for State authority and capacity as necessary to resisting destructive external forces. In the era of globalization, the human rights treaties, such as ICESCR, re-emerge as an essential tool toward that end. More than ever, States have the unique authority, duty, self-interest and opportunity to uphold prior human rights treaty obligations in order to resist new external conditionalities that lead to regression or deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights of humans within their jurisdiction and effective control.

Within the framework of State obligation, authority and capacity, it is also true that local initiative is the essential ingredient in any recipe for ultimately realizing human rights. Applying the human rights tools and binding commitments already in place takes much of the local guess work out of what should be done. Elaborating the present methodology seeks to outline a common framework that already exists, within which local specificity and problem-solving genius can emerge. The present framework, shared by UN member States under the UN Charter and other treaties, facilitates the sharing of strategic lessons and good practices through a common language of binding commitment. It also takes an important step toward restoring international legitimacy, that elusive intangible value that lies at the very foundation of each State.

Since our common language is also the vernacular of all people(s), long before its codification by governments, the prospect of civil society support for a campaign toward secure tenure for all translates also into popular support for the authority and capacity of the State as well. Ironically, the human rights community, especially proponents of ESCR and an ethical globalization, are becoming advocates of State authority and capacity in the face of corrosive external pressures. In this scenario, the human rights framework and its global supporters become a vital asset of statecraft with potential government/nongovernment cooperation as a dividend. Implementing these assets as tools of statecraft is possible, of course, only in the presence of that other critical ingredient: democratic political will.

Declaración del Encuentro Internacional por Ciudades Igualitarias

Declaración del Encuentro Internacional por Ciudades Igualitarias

En el marco del U20, organizaciones sociales, movimientos populares, redes de la sociedad civil, integrantes de la academia y autoridades locales comprometidas con la igualdad, los derechos humanos y la sustentabilidad se reunieron en Buenos Aires para proponer un compromiso común por Ciudades Igualitarias.

A un año de los sismos: el proyecto de Reconstrucción Integral y Social del Hábitat en el Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca

A un año de los sismos: el proyecto de Reconstrucción Integral y Social del Hábitat en el Istmo de Tehuantepec, Oaxaca

El 7 de septiembre de 2017 un sismo con magnitud de 8.2 con epicentro en Chiapas, afectó gravemente comunidades de ese estado, así como de Oaxaca. En el segundo caso, los principales daños ocurrieron en el Istmo de Tehuantepec, Ixtaltepec, Juchitan, Ixtepec y muchas de las comunidades Binnizá (Zapotecas) e Ikoot (Huaves) fueron seriamente afectadas. El 23 de septiembre del mismo año, un nuevo sismo de magnitud 6.3 con epicentro en Ixtepec agravó el problema.