Once again, 10 December invokes the memory and promise of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the expectation it generated for better world, after the scourges of war. On this World Human Rights Day, several years on from the 2015 and 2016 global commitments under the 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement and New Urban Agenda, we approach year 3 of a pandemic and public health crisis. All these converging developments have generated multiple pledges and promises ranging from moratoriums on evictions to a call for a global cease-fire. Promises on the part of states and governments to take the necessary steps to save humanity from devastating climate change have also come due in the period under review in the Land Times/أحوال الأرض No. 24.
This time, the promise of international law and human rights comes under review once again, with reports of violations and breaches in the Middle East/North Africa and the wider world. In this review period, HLRN’s annual report from the Violation Database has covered the persistence of conflict, occupation and war-induced displacements, including new and resurgent conflicts, despite the appeals to join forces instead against the common COVID enemy.
Nonetheless, HIC-HLRN and partners have been pursuing remedy and reparations with a major output toward transitional justice in Yemen, the new report: Counting on Justice. Partnering with Members and allies, training and advocacy efforts reported in this issue build civil society capacity to advocate solutions in habitat-related human rights violations in Western Sahara, governance of land tenure in Iraq, and assessing policy affecting women’s land tenure across the region.
While we express our solidarity with Palestinian Members and colleagues, where Israel’s criminalization of human rights defenders and their organizations has reached a new low, new efforts are underway to seek accountability for the long-term persecution of the Palestinian people as a whole, as reported in “Commission of Inquiry on Crimes in Israel/Palestine.” This issue also reports progress within the UN Human Rights System in the recent recognition of a ‘human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment’ and a new Special Rapporteur mandate on climate change.
Climate change, its mitigation and adaptation to it are the dominant themes around the recent CoP26 held in Glasgow last month. Land Times/أحوال الأرض No. 24 dedicates special attention to the uneven outcomes from the global conference, but also sheds light on the process of ‘green transition’ in the Arab states. In this context, this issue reports HIC’s multiple global actions and campaigning for climate justice, and offers a forward-looking view of CoP26 from the MeNA region.
Other advocacy activities reported here include the practical recommendations toward the long-promised self-organized stakeholder-engagement mechanism and human rights-based operations of the new UN-Habitat, and the continuing development of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) General Comment on land.
Local Member advocacy has borne fruit also with the publication of major studies by Civic Forum for Housing and Habitat – Zambia and the Zimbabwe People’s Land Rights Movement, quantifying the values at stake for women undergoing eviction and dispossession of their land and homes. Cross-regional HIC collaboration and ‘co-learning’ is the current stage of HIC’s global project ‘Connecting across Human Rights Related to Habitat: Civil Society Action for Gender and Land Policy Impact.’
HIC Member developments are covered here also in reports of HIC’s role in representing the interests of the Urban Food Insecure constituency before the UN Committee on World Food Security (CSM), as well as HIC’s Women and Habitat – Africa Working Group.
Through all these events and developments, this 24th issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض recalls and reminds all partners across the human habitat of the many world-transforming promises yet to keep.