Request for collaboration
Dear colleagues from social organizations, networks, movements, nongovernmental organizations, academia:
From September 3 to 5, 2008, the XVII Assembly of MINURVI (the Assembly) will be held in El Salvador, where the Ministers and other authorities from the housing sector will meet (as is done each year) in order to coordinate intergovernmental cooperation between the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean for the sustainable development of human settlements. The Assembly results in agreements that will then be presented at the XVII Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, which will be held from October 29 to 31, also in El Salvador.
Habitat International Coalition Latin America (HIC-AL), the Centre on Housing Rights and Eviction (COHRE), and Habitat for Humanity LA/C, all of whom are committed to the adoption of the Right to the City, have collectively made headway in the preparation of the Declaration: Proposals for the Implementation of the Right to the City in Latin Americas Urban Policies (the Declaration), a copy of which is attached to this letter. The attached proposal is an initial draft that we request you distribute and discuss with allies as well as national and local networks in every country in which you have such networks and contacts. We also encourage you to consider and develop declarations / statements / documents at the local, state, and national levels related to this process. All of these documents will be submitted simultaneously to the Assembly during its technical phase (this September 3rd).
We invite you to join us in our commitment and joint efforts towards the defense and complete realization of the Right to the City for the inhabitants of each region, acting along two dimensions:
1) Participation by the civil society in the XVII Assembly of MINURVI
Review the Declarations contents, disseminate it throughout your organization, send the Declaration to other movements, networks, NGOs, academia, and other social actors in Latin America; stimulate debate over the Declarations contents and their importance from a contextual perspective, provide feedback and your input; and express your commitment to the adoption of the Right to the City by your participation in this process.
Given the proximity of the Assembly, we invite you to begin the process and to keep us updated on your progress. We request that you submit your comments and observations by July 31, 2008, to the following email accounts (so they can be systematized): Claudia@cohre.org; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com. Please make Comments to the proposed Declaration on the Rights to the City the subject line of your email. Within the next few days, we expect to send you an update about being able to obtain information, opine on, access and participate in this process through the internet.
Lobby the Ministers and other public authorities in your respective countries, including those who will be present during the Assembly, so that they instruct the Assemblys Technical Committee that the Declaration be presented at the Assembly (September 4-5) by a representative from the regions civil society.
Regarding this point, we deem it important to let you know that we have approached the new Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing of the UN, Raquel Rolnik, for her to participate in the Assembly for the purpose of opening and mediating dialogue between the civil society and the authorities gathered there, who have already taken steps to request Ms. Rolniks participation in the Assembly.
Take advantage of the spaces made available by MINURVI for the presentation of graphic displays and/or audio-visual presentations in the Convention Center where the Assembly will be held. We will be sending you the details regarding these opportunities in the next few days.
Participate in a press conference and other activities to be organized during the Assembly. These activities will be coordinated by HIC-AL, COHRE, and HFH-LA/C. Details regarding the coordination of these activities will be sent under separate cover.
If you wish to access information regarding the background of this process and prior communications that have been had with MINURVI (in which some of your organizations have already been involved) please visit www.hic-al.org.
Finally, HIC-AL will deliver the following documents to the Assembly, which HIC-AL has been preparing as input to the ongoing debate and to the implementation of the action plan of MINURVI: a) the Right to the City in the World: a compilation of documents relevant to the debate (HIC-AL, Jan. 2008; being revised for publication); b) Integration of a System of Instruments of Support for the Social Production of Housing (HIC-AL, Nov. 2007; being revised for publication).
2) Social Mobilization in Latin America in support of the adoption and implementation of the Right to the City (the complete document outlining the basic strategy for said mobilization will be available soon for review on the internet).
We propose a widespread mobilization of movements, networks, NGOs, academia, and other social actors throughout Latin America towards the recognition of the Right to the City and the full realization of the human rights associated with habitat, which include, among other initiatives:
Spread the contents and process of the Charter of Principles (World Social Forum) and the Right to the City (background, foundation and rationale, purpose and objectives, principles, debate themes, and longtime experiences in various places).
Contribute to the mobilization of, and connections/alliances/partnerships among, movements, networks, NGOs, academia, and other social actors throughout Latin America, stimulating and encouraging the formation, debate, and collective elaboration of proposals and public outreach around these themes.
Encourage debate regarding urban public policies in order that they incorporate the fundamental principles of the Right to the City.
Exercise influence upon the authorities (local, state, national, and regional; different government sectors) about the relevance and urgency of securing, by working in conjunction with the civil society, access to land, adequate housing, infrastructure and social facility, as well as financing mechanisms that are sufficient and sustainable.
Exercise influence upon the authorities for them to open and assure lines of communication so that the civil society can effectively participate in the governmental decisionmaking process, including budgets, legal framework, and other instruments, as well as in their implementation and monitoring.
Propose to Ms. Raquel Rolnik that she include within her mandate as the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing for the UN, facilitation of the dialogue regarding these themes between civil society and governments of the region.
Engage in activities that promote local and national dissemination and debate in order to propel the Right to the City as part of the public policy discussion agendas.
Coordinate a collective presence at the Social Forum of the Americas (Guatemala, October 7-12, 2008).
Organize activities around World Habitat Day / World Campaign for Land Tenure and Housing / World Campaign Against Evictions / Act Together: Housing for All Campaign (in the framework of the World Social Forum).
Coordinate a collective presence at the World Social Forum (Belem do Para, Brazil, January 26 February 1, 2009).
Exchange information through this medium regarding: a) What is your organization, movement, network, NGO, academic institution, or other social actor doing in order to concretize the Right to the City? b) With whom are you accomplishing the foregoing? c) What reports, studies, or publications have you produced? d) What resources have been mobilized? e) Who are the persons with expertise regarding the themes-principles of the Right to the City? The answers/information will be systematized and made available to the organizations involved in this process.
Habitat International Coalition-Latin America (HIC-AL)
Habitat for Humanity LA/C
For additional information, please contact:
Sebastin Tedeschi (COHRE): firstname.lastname@example.org
Lorena Zarate (HIC-AL): email@example.com
Mara Luisa Zanelli (HFH-LA/C): Mzanelli@habitat.org
To read the declaration of civil society organizations to the XVII Assembly of MINURVI, just click here.