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“Who is it for?” – UN experts call for a New Urban Agenda based on human rights for every one

NEW YORK / GENEVA (29 June 2016) – A group of twelve United Nations human rights experts today called for a New Urban Agenda that recognises the human rights deprivations caused by unrestrained urban economic growth, and commit to concrete human rights responses, including the regulation of private actors consistent with human rights norms.
 
“Who is the first Urban Agenda of the XXI Century for?” – the experts asked in an Open Statement* to government delegates gathering this week in New York to negotiate another draft of the New Urban Agenda to be adopted at the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, Habitat III, to take place October 17-20, 2016 in Quito, Ecuador.
 
“If it is not aimed at improving the lives of those living in poverty, in appalling conditions in ever-growing informal settlements, if it not for those who are homeless, or for the groups who often experience discrimination and exclusion –persons with disabilities, older persons, women, internally displaced persons, minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, and refugees– then we must ask, who is it for?”

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to housing, Leilani Farha, warned that for millions across the globe, economic growth has resulted in ghettoization, development-based evictions, displacement and excessive increases in the cost of housing, services and other necessities in cities.

“The economic development and growth of cities are prominent issues in the revised zero draft, but all too little attention is paid to the impact of urban growth on poor people and groups in extremely vulnerable situations,” Philip Alston, independent expert on extreme poverty, said.

The experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council, highlighted the need for the New Urban Agenda to include mechanisms to ensure that those engaged in development –financial institutions, infrastructure developers and land and real estate conglomerates – do so in a manner that is consistent with human rights.

“Without a strong commitment to human rights protections in the New Urban Agenda, and to regulating land and housing policies in a manner consistent with human rights principles, we will simply see more of the same: exclusion and marginalization,” Ms. Farha cautioned.

(*) Check the Open Statement:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=20200&LangID=E 

The experts: Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Catalina Devandas Aguilar, Special Rapporteur on disabilities, Philip Alston, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on food, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Dainius Puras, Special Rapporteur on health, Victoria Lucia Tauli-Corpuz, Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, Chaloka Beyani, Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons, François Crépeau, Special Rapporteur on migrants, Rita Izsak-N’Diaye, Special Rapporteur on minorities, Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, Independent Expert on older persons, and Léo Heller, Special Rapporteur on water and sanitation.

The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva: Juana Sotomayor (+41 22 917 9445 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org), Mariannick Koffi (+41 22 917 9642) or write to srhousing@ohchr.org
In New York: Nenad Vasic (+1 212 963 5998 / vasic@un.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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