1,000 million people of the world do not have a decent home, is that the price of globalization?”
Date: 23 août, 2004
Miloon Kothari, architect and UN Special Rapporteur on housing for the Commission of Human Rights, says that the process of economic globalization that the world lives in and the institutions that direct the progressive deterioration that they are going through -both developing countries such as those in the south- responsible for the policies of protection and the impulse for housing. “1,600 million people live in the world in inadequate housing and 100 million do not have a home,” the expert alerted us. Governments have to be responsible for making cities accessible to people who are not rich.
Miloon Kothari began his intervention at the “141 Questions” explaining that with globalization there are policies of structural adjustment that have limited the states actions in the realm of people’s basic rights in which decent housing is included. “In developing countries, the direct impact of globalization is the payment of debt, and indirectly, the privatization of water, drainage, and electricity that makes many people not have access to these basic necessities,” he said. Kothari proved to be very critical with institutions such as the World Banks or the IMF, who he says are responsible for creating this situation which obliges the States to decentralize functions in local authorities, that do not have the money to apply the services, creating a spiral that that makes it harder and harder for people to satisfy their most elemental needs. “Neoliberalism and the decentralization proposed by these institutions leaves the attention of these basic rights in the hands of the market, and this isn’t right,” he exclaimed from the Haima stage. “I am pessimistic about the possibility of the system turning around to permit equality.
In their creation, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) considered clauses that would favor developing countries. But the rich countries ended up dominating the system, they have more and more rights to vote and the poor cannot make their voices heard,” he stated in a bitter tone. Kotharis accused the WTO of only taking care of economic profits, and blocking policies of development of human rights. It is a network, in Kothari´s opinion, that also has repercussions in the most advanced countries where there is a “paralysis” on behalf the states that are heading towards a “worsening of the condition of housing in Europe and the United States.” “In Barcelona, there are people who live without water, electricity, and drainage,” he condemned the Indian Architect. “The number of people “without a roof” keep increasing, and the states decrease their investments in housing. And, in developing countries, the situation is even worse because there is no housing policy targeted at the most disadvantaged classes,” he added. “The governments have the direct responsibility of preventing people from heading towards situations in which they are vulnerable and have to act to prevent only the rich people from being able to afford living in a city,” the expert pointed out.
To begin to turn this serious problem around, Kothari advocated for the cancellation of external debt in developing countries and looking for equality of the financial system. He also demanded the harmonization of international policy. “With an international consensus on policies of international rights, the situation would improve. But what we have today is a division because some countries vote in favor of human rights in certain spheres and commit to mercantilism in others. And this makes poor countries confused that do not know where to look for help.” “The citizens of Northern countries have to prevent their governments from giving in to military and trade policies and make them also deal with human rights from all over the world,” he concluded.