We’re All in This Together
This Land Times/أحوال الأرض issue 19 coincides with a global crisis: the COVID-19 pandemic. While so many thousands have suffered and died from the virus around the world, the pandemic reveals the vulnerability of all people and reminds of our commonly fragile humanity. In the Middle East/North Africa, this comes as one plague amid multiple crises, testing human body and soul.
Perhaps the world will never be the same again. Facing such grave issues and stakes together could irreversibly alter the way we relate to each other, for better or for worse. The more-immediate concern is cooperation now to overcome the pandemic that has ground cities to a halt.
Meanwhile, and especially now, struggles over ideas, policy and practice continue. The contents of this Land Times/أحوال الأرض 19 emphasize participation, cooperation and joint action also to remedy lethal threats to livelihoods on the people’s land. Land and its stewards are essential to sustaining food systems, as well as needed solutions with housing that ensures health and livelihood. All displacements in these times heap untold harm to the most vulnerable among us. This is an era of greatly needed multilateralism and girding the UN’s chartered human rights pillar, especially at this 75th anniversary of the UN’s founding.
As noted in HIC-HLRN’s contribution to the codification of land as a human right (distinct from property), land is typically the first physical element in a chain required to fulfill other human rights, not least the rights to adequate housing and health. The deprivation of land is also the subject of persistence struggles to restore the land sovereignty of occupied peoples, as in Kashmir, Palestine, Tibet and Western Sahara, not least in the case of third parties, including illicit corporations. Land is also central to the multiple deprivation of the indigenous peoples of Nuba Mountains (Sudan) the apartheid regime occupying Palestine, as it is also customary for many women in India, Kenya and Uganda.
However, this issue also catalogs efforts to resist such land-related human rights violations. Reported civil society efforts to defend the integrity of the land and its people include parallel reporting to the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies, critical engagement with UN specialized agencies. As reported here, this is made possible through the innovative networking and capacity development of local and national CSOs in their relationship with the state.
Monitoring (voluntary) global policy commitments within corresponding human rights obligations is at the core of HIC’s Human Rights Habitat Observatory. That integrated approach grounds the coherent efforts and developments reported here.
This Land Times/أحوال الأرض also interrogates the policy and practice of participation, and how levels of participation relate to partnership, or amount to mere manipulation. However, few policy processes are more timely than the current exercise at monitoring the UN Committee on World Food Security’s Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises.
With the protraction of our shared pandemic, the articles in this issue actual contain lessons and tools for both monitoring and evaluating our performance in crisis.
One lesson currently being (re)learnt is that, ultimately, we are all in this together. We share more than we differ from one another. Cooperation is needed to give meaning and effect to the norms of highest aspiration and unity enshrined 70 years ago in the UN Charter. Representing a specialized UN Charter-based agency, World Health Organization Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus appealed to us on 8 April 2020: