Issues Home About Contact Us Issue 25 /26 - May 2022 عربى

Cause and Effect

The world has taken on another layer of crisis in the few months since the last publication of Land Times/أحوال الأرض.  Consistent with the theme of HLRN’s most-recent World Habitat Day report from the Violation Database (VDB), conflict, occupation and war have taken on new intensity with the highly predictable and at least partly provoked Russian invasion of Ukraine. As HIC’s statement on these events acknowledges, the outpouring of Western and eurocentric solidarity with those war victims bewilders observers in other war-torn regions who have defenselessly endured and fled continuous invasions, occupation, denial of self-determination and proxy wars for decades now without such empathy and welcoming treatment.

This expanded issue 25/26 takes inventory of civil society efforts to address the new and continuing complex regional and global crises since issue 24, in December 2021. Notably, the multiple fronts emerging in this period have their roots in long patterns of human behavior unremittingly harmful to people, peace, prosperity, planet and partnership, reflecting the very subjects of the global sustainable-development framework. These commitments come under renewed scrutiny with the delayed 5-year assessment of the 2016 New Urban Agenda implementation during this period.

While diplomacy fails majestically and state behavior continues to disappoint, we offer this civic platform with clear Habitat Voices, independent Special Procedures, civil society and Indigenous Peoples for an alternative vision. For example, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has distilled a wealth of inputs to proffer advice to states in the UN Human Rights Council on the discrimination, spatial segregation, casteism and apartheid that cause the miserable living conditions of the world’s impoverished and occupied millions. Exemplary is the apartheid and persecution that Israel has practiced since its inception against the Palestinian people as a whole, while this publication takes note of major human rights organizations now, finally mustering the integrity and courage to recognize those crimes by their names.

By analogy, this issue of Land Times/أجوال الأرض introduces the findings of an unprecedented joint stakeholder report to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Morocco, focusing on its gross violations of human rights to adequate housing and land of the people of Western Sahara. That country remains under the Moroccan kingdom’s 47-year-long illegal military and colonial occupation, while the UN Security Council remains inert on the matter.

This issue notes progress in the civil society and indigenous peoples working to promote and achieve peoples’ food sovereignty. This indispensable advisory group has embraced Indigenous peoples by rebranding itself as the Civil Society and Indigenous People Mechanism for relations with the UN Committee on World Food Security (CSIPM). However, the group’s newly consolidated message struggles to be heard, even in the current context of conflict, occupation, war, drought, broken supply chains, irresponsible foreign policies, corporate capture of the UN, climate change, locust infestations and increasing droughts and famines.

This reporting period also coincides with Palestine’s national Day of the Land, new reports on the state-sponsored dispossession of displaced persons’ land and housing in Syria. A review of Israel’s performance of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, covered here, reminds us how the violation of accessory human rights can violently dispossess and destroy the habitat of people indigenous to the lands subject to colonization.

Tanzania is the focus of this trend that threatens to dispossess 70,000 Maasai of their lands to please “royal” poachers and trophy hunters from the UAE. Also with a focus on Africa, this issue updates readers on the case of South Africa’s Abahlali baseMjondolo land defenders Ayanda Ngila and Siyabonga Manqele, who were murdered in March and may, respectively. Also belatedly, the struggles and legal precedents after 500 years of plunder are moving some courts on the American Continent to uphold Indigenous peoples’ rights. Most recently, Ecuador’s Supreme Court upheld the Ai Cófan people’s right to free, prior and informed consent before their lands and environments become subject to extraction and other development projects.

HLRN report that constructive efforts persist also in the form of a new twinning project to support Sudan’s civil society to assume greater roles in land administration and policy toward durable solutions for internally displaced persons (IDPs). In that spirit, this issue profiles HLRN’s project partner ISTIDAMA: Center for Land and Environmental Governance (Sudan), as well as the Kenya Social Movements Network, a partner of HIC-HLRN in the 9th Africities Summit and preparatory Civil Society Forum.

Land Times/أحوال الأؤض also strikes a note of cautious optimism at the establishment of new initiatives, including a UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, to urge states to adopt more-responsible environmental and energy policies. In addition, a new study on “green transition” in the Arab world shows some notable progress, while civic monitoring is needed even more to address potential hazards identified in the report.

This period also has seen outstanding results from HIC’s cross-regional Co-learning and Advocacy project, with a series of online learning events carried out by the HIC-Member Feminist Approaches to Habitat Group. This publication also introduces readers to the upcoming sessions offered on human rights-based land administration.

Meanwhile, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reissued more stern warnings of human-caused disasters underway and year to come. We are reminded also of the devastating floods that wiped out informal communities in Durban, South Africa last month. As in the recent HLRN/Dibeen workhop in Jordan on land, climate change and forests, debate ensues as to the locus of public responsibility for such avoidable tragedies. This double issue of Land Times/أحوال الأؤض features the case of the Petrópolis, Brazil landslide in February 2022. The withdrawal of preventive and remedial public measures in advance of that disaster raises new questions about causative factors beyond Mother Nature.

A pattern of such complex cases has led HLRN to issue a call for cases of housing and land destruction by ostensible environmental events where human factors form the cause. That input will be reflected in the World Habitat Day report from the VDB in October 2022. We look forward to readers’ contributions to that upcoming global stocktaking.



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