Subsistence and Resistance 2020
This 21st issue of Land Times is rich in positions, perspectives, progress and proposals of civil society in the Middle East/North Africa and the wider world. At least two related themes run in parallel throughout: Land as a source and means of subsistence, and the spirit of resistance amid world’s crises against the consequent loss of land as a threat to human needs and, consequently, human rights related to habitat.
The positions and practical proposals offered by Land Research Center (Jerusalem) in the “Member News” is an expression of the much-celebrated resilience of the Palestinian farmers and pastoralists undergoing violent colonization and occupation. Moreover, it also demonstrates the inherent relationship between resilience and resistance in this case, as well as recognizes the liability of the perpetrators of assaults that necessitate both, no less the resilience and resistance against unrelenting settler and military assaults on Palestine’s steadfast farmers and pastoralists during the putatively humanizing crisis brought on by COVID-19.
As always, events and developments in Palestine top the housing and land rights violation record. Here, Land Times reprints a communication from UN Special Rapporteurs protesting Israel’s recent demolition of Khirbat Humsa village in Palestine’s Jordan Valley (Area C) in favor of nearby settlers. An urgent-action appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to water and sanitation in this period reveals the underlying factors and current abuses that endanger human habitation in the occupied Gaza Strip. The UN’s failure to fulfill self-determination rights in the MENA region’s other colonized country is also the subject of a backgrounder by Geneva-based NGOs, explaining the principal issues arising from the occupation of Western Sahara, which completes 45 years in 2020.
On the bright side, this issue also reports progress and proposals for civil society organization (CSO) initiatives to restore peace and security through land restitution and resettlement of dispossessed and displaced persons in Yemen and Sudan. CSO needs assessed and roles proposed in both crisis-afflicted countries point to CSO’s indispensable contributions to building a more-democratic post-crisis future. Potential CSO contributions to regional policy are exemplified also in the CSO messages to FAO’s recent Near East Regional Conference, uniquely documented here.
The Framework for Action for Food Security and Nutrition in Protracted Crises (FFA), adopted by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2015, is a principal subject of CSO monitoring of that global policy’s implementation five years on. The corresponding Land Times article traces that and other policy processes as background for a forthcoming Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples Mechanism (CSM) report on application of the FFA-specific principles, applicable norms, practices of subsistence and resistance, as well as corresponding responsibilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic forms a global priority also, with this year’s World Habitat Day report from the HIC-HLRN Violation Database (5 October). Introduced in this LT issue, that study, A Pandemic of Violations, is dedicated to the concurrent global pattern of forced evictions and other housing and land violations, despite official moratoriums and calls for a cessation of conflicts, displacement and violence. A related article on Land amid COVID-19 illustrates the inextricability of both rural and urban land with human subsistence, as surely is the case in many crisis situations, both present and yet to come.
Shortly after that World Day, HLRN commemorated the dual World Day of Rural Women (15 October) and World Food Day (16 October). The HLRN statement reprinted here derives lessons from experience of monitoring, quantifying and analyzing losses, costs and damages to women, to food systems and to the world economy at large by systematic discrimination and exclusion of rural women from exercising their human rights.
Defense of land is both a global and local theme during this period. This issue marks the 20th year of HLRN’s Middle East North Africa Program (HIC-MENA). That achievement has been made possible largely by a gracious, welcoming and supportive civil society, official institutions and general population in Egypt. With that, Land Times is also commemorating the 20-year anniversary of the UN Special Rapporteur mandate on adequate housing
Global reporting here also highlights the work of HIC Members in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe in defense of women’s human rights to adequate housing and land. Their resulting outcomes, findings and personal testimonies are both harrowing and inspiring. They converge with calls for spatial, material, gender and social justice, within the other classical forms of justice, and across our common continent, region and world.
This convergence of civil voices for justice is an appropriate tribute to the struggle across time and space for human rights on this 72nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and World Human Rights Day on 10 December 2020. Despite crises and cruelties of multiple sort, we close this year of 2020 with the vision and promise of human rights fixed in our sight.