Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 29 - September 2023 عربى
Terminology Corner
Urban Rights

is a term and concept arising from The European Declaration of Urban Rights (1982). The regional initiative to adopt a European Urban Charter constructed “urban rights” through the work of the Council of Europe on urban policies, inspired by the Council of Europe-organized “European Campaign for Urban Renaissance” (1980 to 1982). It identifies a bundle of “rights” that apply to inhabitants of both the city and “its surrounding region,” including rights to:

  1. Security; i.e., a secure and safe town, as free as possible from crime, delinquency and aggression;
  2. An unpolluted and healthy environment free from air, noise, water and ground pollution and protective of nature and natural resources;
  3. Adequate employment possibilities through a fair share in economic development toward achieving personal financial autonomy;
  4. An adequate supply and choice of affordable, salubrious housing, guaranteeing privacy and tranquility;
  5. Unhampered mobility and freedom of movement that pursues a harmonious balance among all street users; e.g., public transport, the private car, the pedestrian and cyclists;
  6. Health in an environment and a range of facilities conducive to physical and psychological health;
  7. Sport and leisure, with access to a wide range of facilities for all persons, without discrimination;
  8. Access to, and participation in a wide range of cultural and creative activities and pursuits;
  9. Multicultural integration, where communities of different cultural ethnic and religious backgrounds coexist peaceably;
  10. Good quality architecture and physical surroundings through contemporary construction, as well as retention and sensitive restoration of built heritage;
  11. Harmonization of urban functions and activities as closely interrelated as possible;
  12. Participation in pluralistic democratic structures and in urban management through cooperation among all of the various partners, practicing the principle of subsidiarity, with corresponding rights to information and freedom from over-regulation;
  13. Economic development, where the local authority assumes responsibility for creating—directly or indirectly—economic growth, in a [locally] determined and enlightened manner;
  14. Sustained development, whereby local authorities attempt to reconcile economic development and environmental protection;
  15. A wide range of accessible and adequate services and goods provided by the local authority, the private sector or by partnerships between both;
  16. Natural wealth and resources and assets by a local authority in a rational, careful, efficient and equitable manner to benefit all citizens;
  17. Personal fulfilment through urban conditions conducive to realizing personal well-being and individual social, cultural, moral and spiritual development;
  18. Intermunicipal collaboration in which citizens are free and encouraged to participate directly in the international relations of their community;
  19. Financial mechanisms and structures enabling local authorities to find the financial resources necessary for the exercise of the rights as defined in this declaration; and
  20. Equality.

According to the Declaration, these “urban rights” require practical actions that involve:

  • Improvement of the physical urban environment;
  • Rehabilitation of existing housing stock;
  • The creation of social and cultural opportunities in towns;
  • Community development and public participation.


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