Report on HIC’s participation at CSD-12 in New York


The “official” CSD-12 sessions included several hundred government representatives from the 131+ UN member states, in Conference Room 2 at the UN HQ, with a dais at the front of the hall consisting of CSD-12 Commission representatives and rotating panels of “experts” on the three themes of water, sanitation, and human settlements. On April 19-20, the official presentations (with Q&A from delegates, and limited opportunities for NGO presentations) were on the theme of water. There appear to have been 100 + NGO representatives attending the sessions as well, although it was hard to sort them out from individual observers.

The “official” sessions were pretty deadly. As usual, the “action” could be found in the NGO caucuses. There was one for each of the three themes, as well as an umbrella NGO caucus which seemed to include the major players in CSD-12 process, and additional caucuses for women and indigenous peoples.

At the Human Settlements Caucus, HIC was successful in its effort. The final statement incorporates all of HIC President’s letter, Enrique Ortiz, main points (protesting forced evictions, illegal destruction of houses and privatization of social housing; need to revise upward the CSD-12 goal for renewal/eradication of 100 million slum dwellings; condemning spatial/social segregation and violence; and a call for government support of social production of housing efforts, although this last one got watered down in the final text after I left NYC). We were also able to add a reference to the destruction of human settlements and diversion of resources caused by war. The original draft statement which the Caucus had prepared included none of these points; thanks to Enrique and Hans’ pithy summary, M.Kane was able to persuade the Caucus to include all of them, and took a major hand in the redrafting process. This statement was delivered to the assembled delegates on Friday, during the formal session on Human Settlements, and was apparently well-received.

In addition, Michael Kane attended the umbrella NGO caucus on Tuesday morning, and won agreement to add a reference condemning forced evictions and destruction of settlements caused by war to their overall statement, which otherwise was pretty good in its clear denunciation of neo-liberal policies, including privatization. I do not have the final statement to confirm whether this language made it in; I think it is scheduled for presentation next week.

Both NGO statements are supposed to be included in some sort of summary document on the overall proceedings.

Tuesday morning, he also visited the UN Habitat Office at the invitation of Krishnan (youth coordinator of UN/Habitat), whom he met in the NGO caucus.

“For me, it was useful to see how HIC can work the UN system in NY, make some contacts, and to get a better sense of the language and “culture” of NGO’s at the UN (e.g., its OK to condemn practices such as forced evictions, as long as specific countries (Israel, US) are not named; countries are only named as “best practices,” etc–not usually my style).”

“I must say that Enrique’s letter was uncannily effective in summing up the main points which needed to be made and made my advocacy work much easier. I gained a deeper appreciation for his vision and leadership, and hope I did justice to HIC’s message in this arena.”

Note: At the request of the HIC Board, Michael Kane represented HIC at the CSD-12 sessions at the UN’s New York Headquarters