January 24, 2007
In response to the sharp increase of massive forced evictions caused by mega-development schemes, global investment and property speculation in urban and rural areas across the planet, the Habitat International Coalition (HIC) Membership Assembly proposes that all peoples housing and land movements, tenants and housing rights organizations, and their allies join in a Global Campaign to Stop Forced Evictions and Neoliberal Destruction of Peoples’Land and Housing. Possible slogans include:
- Stop Forced Evictions
- Stop Speculation in Housing, Land and Water
- Enforce the Right to Housing Now
The campaign aims to:
- Raise global awareness of these issues through a coordinated media campaign.
- Help local and national housing and land rights movements advance their agendas against local, national or regional targets.
- Strengthen local organizations and global networks for future joint actions.
I. Global Days of Action for International Housing and Land Rights in October
Since 2003, HIC has coordinated International Housing and Land Rights Days of Action in October to affirm the Right to Housing in opposition to neoliberal policies across the planet. In 2004, for the first time in history, groups organized housing rights protests in dozens of cities in 32 countries, in all six continents, advancing their local and national agendas.
For 2007-2008, HIC calls on all housing and land rights organizations to sponsor one or more public events as part of the Global Campaign in their countries on or about International Housing Rights Day (first Monday in October, timed with the UN”s World Habitat Day). Each national or local organization would define the specific issues and demands for their country or city. Each group would emphasize the cutting edge struggles which their organization is fighting for, and which will help advance their own issues locally. Local groups would be encouraged to organize an “oppositional” event that works for them within their resources and organizational culture, but with a press angle and preferably mass action or participation.
Although the “official” UN date is the first Monday of October each year, participating groups could pick a day on the first weekend of October or some other day or days in late September or October if that works better for local participants. Local groups fighting forced eviction or speculation do not have to organize a “new” campaign to participate, but should think of how an October action can fit into their on-going local campaigns, and link to the global campaign themes (adding a paragraph to a press release, solidarity speakers at rallies, etc).
As in prior years (see webpages at hic-net.org), HIC will post a Special Web Page which will list actions by each participating organization, with links to the Home Page of each group where feasible. HIC proposes to cross-link local actions with other participating international networks (International Union of Tenants, International Alliance of Inhabitants, etc). Participating groups are asked to forward a brief description of the proposed action to be posted to the HIC webpage in advance.
HIC will issue a global press release highlighting major actions in different regions and contact global media and direct attention to key local events. HIC will also provide a Local Press Kit by October 1 with background materials including the Monitoring Map useful to hand out to your local press. Local groups would generate their own local media and mention the global campaign in their press work.
II. Monitoring and Mapping Forced Evictions, Housing Rights Violations, Privatization/Globalization crises, and Peoples’ Victories
HIC has launched a Monitoring and Mapping project to support local campaigns and global press work. The first Global Map on forced evictions, housing rights violations, and privatization struggles was launched on International Housing Rights Day at a press conference in London in 2006. The Map is posted on the HIC webpage (hic-net.org) with links to background reports. The Map was based on information gathered from local peoples’ campaigns and housing rights groups.
The Map and background reports are a tool to help local organizing campaigns, raise global awareness and media attention, and promote networking among grass roots housing rights and settlements activists. HIC calls on all organizations and networks to participate in the Monitoring and Mapping project by forwarding to HIC information and reports about forced evictions, privatization and globalization struggles, and housing rights violations in their areas. HIC’s General Assembly has also proposed to create a poster of peoples victories in the fights against forced eviction, globalization and housing rights violations. HIC invites local groups to forward their victory stories to be shared with and inspire others in struggles across the globe.
HIC will release an updated version of the Map each year to the global media for Housing Rights Day, and make available a downloadable version so groups can include it in their local press work.
III. “Naming and Shaming” global corporations and financial institutions targets
In response to the rapidly accelerating rate of globalization, speculation and privatization in the habitat sector, there is an urgent need for information, research and analysis of the specific strategies of global corporations, financial institutions, governments and UN agencies in the destruction of habitat and forced evictions. Although good information exists on these issues for the issue of water privatization, little has been brought together in the field of housing and land. HIC’s Working Group on Privatization and Globalization of Habitat has proposed a “Naming and Shaming” project to collect this information and post it on HIC’s website for global use.
HIC invites all organizations, trade unions, research institutes and progressive academic friends to share information, action-oriented research, and analysis of the roles that specific corporations, financial institutions, government and UN agencies are playing in the destruction of habitat around the globe. “Naming the names” of the actors involved, and sharing information on HIC’s website, is the first step to “shaming” these institutions and allowing more targeted organizing drives to stop forced evictions and speculation.
HIC’s Working Group on Privatization and Globalization of Habitat also invites interested organizations and activists to join an on-going electronic listserve and discussion group to deepen awareness and analysis of these issues. Contact HIC to get involved.
IV. Coordinated campaign targets and solidarity to local campaigns
At this stage, the proposed Global Campaign is mainly a public awareness campaign, given the difficulty if identifying and mobilizing against a specific, single “target” that could unite and engage grass roots movements across the globe. However, some local groups have linked regionally, as in the case of Asian movements in their campaign against neo-liberal policies of the Asian Development Bank.
Still other groups have launched solidarity campaigns that unite struggles against corporate targets in several countries, such as the campaigns against Coca Cola or Walmart, although targeting of housing and land corporations has yet to occur.
HIC encourages local groups to link together to target specific corporations or financial institutions engaged in forced evictions and the destruction of habitat as part of the Global Campaign, wherever feasible. Actions timed during the October period will be highlighted in the Campaigns’ global press work.