This issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض comes at a time of great tension not only due to the multiple armed conflicts enflaming the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region, but also due to the competing visions of global policies and treaty obligations, on the one hand, and the narrow self-interest and unilateralism promoted by the extremist governments and political movements in the world, notably in former democratic countries.
Amid this ideological tug-of-war, this issue reflects the undeniable link between local struggles and those taking place in international forums. At one side, local civil societies, UN Charter-based agencies and treaty bodies form common cause and cooperate to preserve and constructively uphold biodiversity and human diversity. The reports here from the HLRN Land Forum VI and the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty exemplify this positive trend. However, the very recent Nation-State Law adopted in Israel represents the crowning touch to a century of apartheid institutionalized and practiced to the purposeful dispossession of the indigenous Palestinian people.
The HIC and HLRN approach described as Human Rights Habitat Observatory forms a methodology that seeks alignment of the global sustainable development commitments of the 2030 Agenda and the higher obligations of states under international law. The HRHO approach contributes to salvaging the norms and corresponding duties, while certain international forums—including the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review and ECOSOC’s High-level Political Forum—effectively seek to replace state obligations with “voluntary” mechanisms.
The specific projects of HLRN reported form a core effort of its offices and HIC Members to promote universal human rights-based governance approaches in the local context. The Right to the City in Greater Beirut is one such effort to explore how local governments and authorities, as well as communities, discharge locally the global responsibility of the refugee and displacement crisis. Measuring Impacts on Kenyan Women recounts how HLRN and partners are using quantification methods to seek remedy for the often-insidious material violations against women’s human rights to land and home. This is despite human rights treaty obligations of states and the promises made under the 2030 Agenda. As noted in The Rush for Land Indicators, the big-data approaches to monitoring that Agenda may be falling short of their targets, including the higher standards set under treaty.
At the same time, the human rights discourse on adequate housing is encapsulated in the UN Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha’s “shift” campaign. This issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض interprets that message in “The Shift” and SPH as return to states’ obligation to fulfill the human right to adequate housing by supporting social production of habitat and housing. That local process, producing the overwhelming majority of housing needed in the developing world, aligns with the global promises of the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
As expressed in this issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض , the search for synergies continues to find the practical solidarity and solid practice that combine the best of the global and the local.