World Zero Evictions Days 2009
On the occasion of World Habitat Day 2009 celebrated by the UN-Habitat with the motto “Planning our urban future”, the International Alliance of Inhabitants, the world-wide network for housing rights with no frontiers, has issued a critical communiqué launching the World Zero Evictions Days to support resistances and alternatives for participating cities, a concrete foundation for a new Urban Social Pact. At its heart: the demand for a world-wide moratorium to evictions; and funding for housing and habitat in a “New Green Deal” for at least a billion people. This funding would be based, among others, on the investment of an important part of developmental aid as well as on the annulment of external debt, transformed into a Popular Fund for land and housing. This is the concrete enactment of the agreements made by all international networks for housing and city rights at the WSF 2009, the next step in the unifying process of building the World Assembly of Inhabitants on 2011.
New, violent actions on a massive scale, which amplify the disastrous effects of neoliberal responses to the global crisis, have characterized the past twelve months : tens of millions evicted for no guilt and with nowhere to go, unable to face the costs of rising rents; victims of neoliberal competition favouring profitable cities, of megaprojects, of wars which shred the fabric of society and ruin the environment, of racial or sexist prejudices, of real estate corruption and speculation, of natural disasters. We are rapidly approaching the projected 1,7 billion of homeless and inadequately lodged people for 2020, which will be a defeat with regards to Millennium Development Goal # 7-11.
We denounce these illegal evictions and these violations of housing rights. These infringe on Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural, and Social Rights, ratified by over 70 countries (both developed and developing) where these inhuman practices have nevertheless been recorded over the past twelve months.
We recognize UN-Habitat’s decision to reconsider the trust placed in neoliberal policies, on the condition that it considers the planning as a joint tool implying organized inhabitants as full participants, and not delegate urban choices to a panel of professionals subject to markets. Coherence would require that UN-Habitat also give up the Global Compact proposed to the private sector encouraging the destruction of unoccupied housing and non-profitable neighbourhoods and inflating the costs of real estate. Instead, tools such as the Special Rapporteur on housing rights, the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE), the additional protocol for the International Covenant on ESCR should be strengthened.
We support the legitimacy and legality of all inhabitants organizations’ heroic initiatives of resistance, struggle and alternatives to prevent evictions and demand full respect of housing rights. In addition, we support the courage of progressive city halls who declare their territory “eviction-free” by administrative acts that are legitimate and respectful of the legality and development of public and participating policies of city planning and housing.
Finally, we appreciate the growing participation of international organizations for the defense of human rights on this subject and we point out the fundamental importance of uniting this front, to avoid lack of focus and coordination.
For these reasons and as a consequence of commitments made at the WSF 2009, we are launching the 2009 World Zero Evictions Days with dozens of initiatives on all continents for the duration of the month of October: we are inviting all concerned entities to build a new Urban Social Pact, based on the respect of human rights and the rhythms and demands of the inhabitants, as well as on the development of alternative public policies to straight out oppose the crisis and the invasion of the sector by the market.
A solidary pact between organizations of inhabitants, the public powers that be, and professionals in the sector, agreeing on public control and participating in the construction and the management of lasting, inclusive cities, to generalize the appeal to G-20: Build a Global Social Pact for Equitable and Sustainable Habitat now.
Principally, a unified demand on all levels of government to obtain immediately:
- A world-wide moratorium to evictions by foreclosure or as a consequence of unpaid rent, because of urban projects or mega-projects, foreign occupation, or on the basis of racial or sexist prejudice;
- Funding for housing and accommodation as a part of a “New Green Deal” to improve living conditions for at least a billion people presently living in a state of insecurity, in inhuman or indecent lodgings;
- The investment of an important part of developmental aid in social housing, cooperatives and habitat, among other things by transforming some external debt into a Popular Funds for land and housing.
These are the next steps in the collaborative effort to build the World Assembly of Inhabitants on 2011 in Dakar. Our only chance to change the fate of inhabitants is to assert their status and create the proper cultural, social, political, and economic conditions for them to be the builders of the future cities.
World : Twelve months of insecurities and of violations of housing rights
Let us only recall the 2 million households at risk of losing their homes because of the American real estate crisis ; 150 000 more people evicted by bulldozer at Port Harcourt despite UN-Habitat’s direct appeal for a halt to the proceedings; dozens of thousands of racist evictions of Romani in Italy ; the demolition of social housing complexes in France, of popular neighbourhoods like Sulukulé in Istanbul, of ancient neighbourhoods in Chinese cities ; the explosive impact of the Soccer World Cup on housing in South Africa and Brazil ; the attacks on and evictions of peoples from communal properties in Argentina and Mexico ; pressure for real estate projects in Cambodia ; the demolition of housing in occupied territory in Palestine…
To these bloody statistics, one must add a record 36 million evacuated due to natural disasters, for which climate changes are increasingly responsible. And 4,2 million new refugees fleeing their homes in the face of war, to join the 42 million already unable to return to their homes for the same reason.
We are rapidly approaching the projected 1,7 billion of homeless and inadequately lodged people for 2020, which would be a defeat with regards to Millennium Development Goal # 7-11.
The suffering of hundreds of millions of people is the poisoned fruit of misplaced trust in the neoliberal system, which has left free rein to unscrupulous investors, leading to rural exodus, the urban explosion and the exclusion of the inhabitants from the building of cities.