Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 28 - April 2023 عربى


The Earth and the larger universe are in perpetual motion and transformation. Nothing illustrates this better in the recent period than the images coming back to us from the James Webb Telescope as of July 2022.

On our own planet, climate change forms the gravest danger to terrestrial life as we know it. That peril has not yet sufficiently brought about a self-preserving change in human behavior as the climate transition beyond prevention, as the IPCC’s Synthesis Report 2023 concludes. As change is often begun in the mind, the needed transformation in social thought now seems possible in the glaring light of hard science, accompanied by calls to evolve beyond the prevalent dualism that alienates us from the biosphere and justifies ravenous consumption of the environment and the colonial tradition that propels it. The UN General Assembly’s latest Harmony with Nature” resolution offers a small-but-significant indicator of that overdue transition.

Nonetheless, projects underway across the globe seek either to mitigate or adapt to the ominous transition. A focus on Egypt’s “green transition” and its climate finance are reviewed in this issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض as an output of HLRN research to develop a methodology and tool for similar tracking of climate action and finance in a single instrument.

Political events and development also spur transition affecting the land and its people. This period coincides with the 47th commemoration of Palestine’s Land Day (30 March), marked with the statement of HIC Member, Land Research Center – Jerusalem, on this solemn occasion. Within a similar context of land and property dispossession, population transfer and demographic manipulation, Kashmir’s transition from multiple occupations to Indian annexation is chronicled here, with contributions from the monitoring efforts of  Kashmir Scholars Consultative and Action Network (KSCAN) and the Kashmir Law & Justice Project (KLJP).

Sudan’s anticipated democratic transition has been slow, disappointing and marred by violence and further displacement. This 28th issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض updates readers on joint efforts to accompany Sudan’s civil society in its transition from the limits of charitable and humanitarian intervention toward development roles that promote durable solutions for the country’s displaced millions.

The report of HLRN and Yemeni partners’ input to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) forms a complement and point of analogy with Sudan, particularly in its recommendations to the Committee for a civil institution in Yemen’s transition out of conflict that would remedy foregoing land deprivation and advise future policy on remedial land administration. In its first session following its adoption of General Comment No. 26 on land and economic, social and cultural rights, CESCR’s Concluding Observations for Yemen seem to endorse that notion as a means for the state to fulfill its obligations under the Covenant.

Yemen, as well as Syria and Palestine, feature in an article that reviews food security in the MENA region in the global context, with a particular focus on gender and the situation of conflict, occupation and war. It cites the vital contributions of small-scale food producers everywhere, who are already engaged in needed food-system transformation that pursues food sovereignty and agroecological transition, but those actors are typically neither recognized nor supported.

Israel’s occupation, war and apartheid practices across Palestine also face demands for local response from citizens in distant cities. As reported here, Barcelona’s mayor recently has broken twinning relations with Tel Aviv. HLRN also supported the mayor’s decision to cut ties with the Israel capital in an Urgent Action appeal (still open) as a measure consistent with the city’s extraterritorial human rights obligations under peremptory norms (jus cogens) of international law.

HLRN and HIC Members in Türkiye have long traced that country’s neo-liberal transition under the past two decades of the Justice and Development Party government. That transition has seen the extreme commodification of housing and a speculative real-estate boom with accompanying corruption at the highest level. With great sadness, this issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرض reprints in translation how the recent Türkiye-Syria earthquakes raise, once again, the call for accountability of officials favoring money over people, which policy has exacerbated the tragic loss of life and property once again.

Further afield, public advocacy by HIC Member Humanitas-Solidaris (Cameroon) has called our attention and practical solidarity in the form of an Urgent Action (still open) that demands reparation for the hundreds of families left homeless and destitute by a series of demolitions of the impoverished Bessenguè Valley community, in the country’s economic capital, Douala. The victims’ transition now involves scrabbling for shelter wherever they can find it, doubling up with households elsewhere, seeking refuge in ancestral villages, or likely forming another informal settlement that deepens their impoverishment and perpetuates their vulnerability to further abuse and displacement.

With a hopeful eye to positive change, this issue reviews the new CESCR General Comment No. 26 on land and the Committee on the Rights of the Child’s own draft General Comment No. 26 on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change. With certain caveats, HLRN reports both as positive developments in the constant evolution of international law.

Also potentially positive is the development toward the new stakeholder-engagement mechanism within the reformed governance of UN Habitat. That aspect of the UN agency’s transition, since adoption of the New Urban Agenda in 2016 and a new governance structure, has taken longer than anticipated, but now seems to be on track toward an affirming decision of the upcoming UN Habitat Assembly in June 2023.

Reporting on the civil engagement in the Arab Forum on Sustainable Development, this issue of Land Times/أحوال الأرضoffers a mixed review of states’ and the UN’s Agenda 2030 performance. Encouraging, however, is the developing role and critical input from the region’s civil society calling for systemic change and progress against all odds.

For its part, HIC also announces its call for facilitators for the new iteration of its Co-learning and Advocacy project, which, this round, focuses on building capacity, social force and advocating systemic policy-level change in two fields: sustainable environment amid climate change, and the social production of habitat.

All processes reported here remain in flux, and reflect ongoing transition.



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