Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 29 - September 2023 عربى
Terminology Corner
Human Rights City/community

Cities, municipalities and/or their constituent quarters declaring themselves “human rights communities” or “human rights cities” constitutes a practice whereby citizens promote human rights principles at the policy level within a municipality, or as part of a municipality. It is also a practice that has sought programmatic definition through such organizations as the People Human Movement for Human Rights Learning (PDHRE), which organization defined a human right city broadly as:

“a society where all citizens have made a pledge to build a community based on equality and nondiscrimination; [where] all women and men are actively participating in the decisions that affect their daily lives, guided by the human rights framework; where people have consciously internalized the holistic vision of human rights to overcome fear and impoverishment, a society that provides human security, access to food, clean water, housing, education, healthcare and work at livable wages, sharing these resources with all citizens—not as a gift, but as a realization of human rights. A Human Rights City is a practical, viable model that demonstrates that living in such a society is possible!”

While this description is abstract, its implementation in practice has produced some operational principles to guide policy and replication of experience. The literature on the “human rights cities” program explains further that that approach especially addresses “both a broader and a narrower dimension of urban poverty.” For example, it:

“is not directed toward securing legal title as a means of protecting the urban poor from market eviction and gentrification, or to catalyze investment in low-income housing. It is rather a broader strategy of empowering inhabitants of communities to find collectively the ways and means of ensuring respect for their human rights, including the right to adequate housing, component elements of which are security of tenure, access to basic urban services, transport and mobility, financial services and credit, women’s empowerment, urban citizenship, income and livelihoods. It is thus a broader strategy than securing legal tenure.”

A recent initiative to link Korean and international human rights cities has created the World Human Rights Cities Forum to expand discussions on human rights cities following the adoption of the “Local Governments and Human Rights” resolution [Arabic] at the 24th session of the UN Human Rights Council (2013).          


All rights reserved to HIC-HLRN