From marginality to citizenship


As part of the activities to be developed within the Universal Forum of Cultures Barcelona 2004 in relation to the theme of cities, Habitat International Coalition (HIC) was invited by Jordi Borja, responsible for organizing the Dialogues on City and Citizens of the XXI Century, to contribute in diverse initiatives related to the dialogue on From marginality to citizenship.

Said activities include preparation of a dossier with relevant cases on the theme, selection of several cases for public presentation in the Forum, and contribution of material for the exhibit on Urban Rights Human Rights, designed and mounted by our friends in the IALA Network (Architectural Research for Latin America Investigaciones Arquitectnicas para Amrica Latina).

HIC an autonomous, non-profit international network with its beginnings dating to the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements celebrated in Vancouver in 1976 is currently integrated by close to 400 social organizations and movements, NGOs, academic groups, research and training institutes, and human rights activists working in the habitat and housing field in 80 countries.

Its international work based on advancing recognition, protection and defense of the human rights linked to habitat, and its daily labor accompanying and promoting self-managed and participative processes aimed at implementing said rights, have allowed HIC to accumulate broad direct knowledge of diverse new options and strategies emerging from civil society organizations in this regard.

Envisioning the city that we want for the XXI century must begin by knowing and understanding the enormous potential for innovation and transformation contained in said options. With that purpose in mind, HIC was invited to present a sample of experiences to inspire and instigate the Forums debates.

The present document is the fruit of that invitation. It brings together 41 cases that richly illustrate complex processes of construction of city and citizenship, driven by social organizations and NGOs, as well as a graphic synthesis of the exhibit and some complementary texts.

These 41 cases were selected from a total of 82 experiences compiled up to December 2004 by HIC, and are presented by region. The compilation process originated in 2001 through an initiative of the HIC Regional Office for Latin America, and many of the Latin American cases therefore date to that time. Other regions and thematic bodies within HIC were later incorporated within this effort. The result is a document based on experiences that illustrate the similarities encountered as well as the distinct emphasis applied in the different regions in the fields of social habitat production and management.

The dossier includes a larger number of Latin American cases due to the head start in compiling cases in that region. A total of 45 cases were submitted by Latin American social organizations and NGOs, allowing the editors to make a selection that illustrates the diversity and wealth of action fields, reaches, and focuses, and to undertake an initial effort to systematize, compare and critically analyze the experiences. This analysis was carried out by Carla Rodrguez of the Gino Germani Institute and member of the Occupants and Tenants Movement of Buenos Aires, and by current HIC President, Enrique Ortiz.
The recent incorporation of other regions within this process provides us with relevant references from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. These cases reveal similar impacts felt by the lowest-income sectors from the economic and public policy conditions created by current globalization processes. At the same time, the experiences from the various regions present interesting differences in terms of emphasis, proposals, and resistance strategies.

With the support of the German cooperation agency InWent, an interregional project is currently underway to advance in the conceptual discussion and analysis of this type of experiences. The objective is to create synergies to strengthen their development and to influence public policies and generation of instruments that draw upon and broaden the social impacts of the innovations described in the cases.

It would have been impossible to integrate this dossier without the voluntary contributions of the organizations, social movements and NGOs involved in the development of the 41 experiences, which come from a total of 34 cities in 26 countries. We gratefully acknowledge the efforts of all the HIC members who helped identify the cases in the different regions and those who undertook the tasks to write them.

We hope that the publication of this document contribute to disseminate these experiences and understand their profound social meaning. The final goal of these efforts is to seek out and implement the structural changes necessary to transform these often heroic testimonies of the social struggle for the right to the city, into permanent policies.

August 2005

To download the files click in the link:

Part 1: Presentation, introduction and bried description of the cases

Part 2: Latin America

Part 3: Africa, Middle East and North America, Asia, Europe