HIC President Message – World Habitat Day 2023
Every year, October is a month full of action to defend, promote and realize our human rights related to habitat. The official theme selected by UN-Habitat for this year’s World Habitat Day is “Resilient urban economies: cities as drivers of growth and recovery”. In a time of multiple interconnected crises, this presents an opportunity to reflect on and debate what “urban economies” actually are and how these can be transformed and shaped in a manner that they serve the collective interest of all inhabitants (in their full diversity) of both urban and rural areas, while also protecting the environment.
From a Habitat Rights perspective, it is clear that fair and inclusive economies are only possible by implementing the human right to land! Thus, on this World Habitat Day and throughout October, Habitat International Coalition and its Members want to share how local actors are defending and realizing the human right to land. Land is at the center of how economies, both in their urban and rural components, are structured. However, if we want to advance toward an economic recovery that is fair, inclusive and reduces socio-economic inequalities, land has to be understood as a human right and not a commodity. It’s time for the United Nations to recognize it as such.
In this scenario, we welcome developments such as the Economic Social and Cultural Rights Committee’s General Comment n. 26, which advances the recognition of the Right to Land. However, we stress that to truly protect and recognize the role played by land in the development and reproduction of human life and in the enjoyment of a series of fundamental rights, we need to go a step further and respect, protect and fulfill the human right to land.
We call for the following three points to be recognized and promoted at the international, national and local spheres to advance towards the recognition, protection and fulfillment of the human right to land:
- A robust national land policy to ensure land for the most marginalised and impoverished populations: including the recognition of ecological and social function of land, setting frameworks to ensure the security of tenure for women who continue to be discriminated throughout patriarchal policies, including the recognition and support of diverse forms of tenure beyond private ownership and the support of agroecology as a means of equitable and sustainable use of land;
- Prevention and protection against violations of the human right to land: including protection against evictions; State regulation of private sector to protect the socio-environmental functions of land; as well as the right for resettlement and reparations in areas of conflict;
- Mainstreaming the role of land across public policies: through integrated land management; integral neighborhood “upgrading” which put communities at its center; environmental and climate justice policies and frameworks; feminist approach to land and equitable and sustainable collective management of common resources. This calls for policy coherence in inter-sectoral (interministerial) coordination and alignment with states’ international obligations and commitments;
We draw on the work and leadership of our members around the world to show how these frameworks can shape concrete actions on the ground that protect the human right to sustainable and equitable access to, use of, and control over land. Let’s raise our voices for the respect, protection and fulfillment of the human right to land!
Adriana Allen, HIC President