HIC-MENA Member Priorities
In September 2020, the HIC Members’ electoral process delivered Ms. Rana Ghanem, of the Social Democratic Forum – Yemen, to represent the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region on the Board of Habitat International Coalition for the mandate of 2020–2024. Introducing Rana to her new mandate, local hic Members held a consultation in Cairo on October 25, at Rana’s request, to discuss collaboration with the HIC Regional Reference Center, the Housing and Land Rights Network.
The meeting was hosted by one of the Members of the Coalition, the Egyptian Association for Collective Rights, and the meeting included Ms. Rana Ghanem, regional coordinator of the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), Joseph Schechla, and legal researcher Ahmed Mansour in the presence of four members of the region:
Social Democratic Forum, Yemen
Egyptian Association for Collective Rights, Egypt
National Center for Peace and Development, Sudan
Kush Society for Development and Human Rights - Nuba Mountains, Sudan
The members welcomed Mrs. Rana Ghanem to her new position, as well as Khalid al-Khawaldah, of Sons of Dana and Qadisiyah Association (Jordan), as deputy regional representative. The attendees agreed on the necessity holding regular meetings of the members of the region, and linking the representatives to a range of activities within a clear plan and timetable.
Members discussed the need to develop a three-year strategic plan, in conjunction with the current planning and proposals of HLRN, and to assess the situation in the region to address priority issues of Members and link them to the global HIC strategy. The most important of these activities is enhancing the exchange of experiences with Members of the Coalition in other regions, in order to link sustainable development issues with the human rights-based approach.
As for the priority issues that the members demand to support and focus on:
- Benefiting from Ms. Rana`s experiences and expertise in women`s issues, prioritizing gender discrimination, tribalism, sectarianism and racism in the region, and the relationship of women to achieving sustainable development goals in the region on HIC’s priority agenda;
- Focusing on feminist urbanism and supporting Members` capabilities at enhancing the role of women in both urban and rural contexts, and enabling them to access and manage natural resources consistent with common HIC themes;
- Developing the capabilities of members, especially with the current situations in the region of conflicts, occupations and wars, and consolidating learning and knowledge production based on a human rights approach;
- Focusing on supporting victims of wars and conflicts, and the related rights of refugees and displaced persons to restore their housing, lands and properties, while ensuring advocacy for the principles and processes of reparation, transitional justice, and equitable development (e.g., in Palestine, Yemen and Sudan);
- Members from Sudan also demanded special attention be given to the human rights situation there and the conflict that is still a special episode in the regions of the Nuba Mountains, Darfur, and the regions of the country’s east, as well as the continuous looting of the assets of the peoples of the Nuba Mountains by influential military figures. The suffering of victims of the conflict is increasing and their conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the restriction of freedom of movement, the situation in the camps for the displaced, as well as the difficulty of communication via the Internet;
- Interrogating and developing principles of responsible investment in the Arab region, especially with regard to agriculture and development projects that affect peoples` rights to natural resources and their own means of subsistence;
- Involving Members in the region and soliciting their feedback on forthcoming draft General Comment on the Land (a human right to land?);
- Developing the prospects and functions of a civil-society-managed Land Observatory (Yemen - Sudan), learning also from the exchange of expertise of HIC Members in Palestine, and perhaps discussing them in more detail at the upcoming HLRN Land Forum.
Members also identified a set of recommendations to be conveyed to the new Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, at his meeting with the Habitat International Coalition Board on 28 October.
At the end of the meeting, the members agreed on the necessity to resume meeting in January 2021, with each of the region’s representatives in the Coalition and the General Secretariat, to communicate their priority issues, and what is required of the General Secretariat to strengthen communication with them and networking between them and the members of the Coalition in other regions.