The City and Human Rights

Men and women are at the heart of the city. As citizens and stakeholders of the city, they are entitled to dignity, to a decent life and to access to essential services, including education, health, housing, employment, public transportation and security. All of which are included in the right to the city.

These rights are protected by national regulatory frameworks (Article 31 of the Moroccan Constitution of 2011) and international ones such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 Covenants and declarations on environment and sustainable development (United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio +20, 2012), the Millennium development goals and the post-2015 development Agenda.

The thriving of human beings in general and the city in particular is symbolized by the relationship between citizenship and sustainable development; when put into practice, this relationship reconciles economic, social and environmental dimensions. All this is in the context of inclusive development based on the principle of non-discrimination, equality opportunity and treatment, and the participation of all men and women to a citizen city project.

The Context of the Thematic

The issue of Human Rights in the City is a result of the international debate that was translated in the claim for the "right to the city." This claim has gained prominence in the 1990s around the recognition of cities as collective spaces playing a key role in the guarantee of human rights, through equitable access to basic services, and as agents responsible for local development policies. This process resulted in the adoption of various local charters of human rights:

  • European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the city of Saint-Denis - France, 2000, signed by more than 350 European cities;
  • The World Charter on the Right to the City, drafted by social movements gathered in the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil (2001);
  • The Charter of Rights and Responsibilities of Montreal, Canada (2006);
  • The Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City (2010).
  • The Kwangju Human Rights Charter (South Korea, 2012).

The Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City, which “aims to promote and strengthen the human rights of all people in all the cities around the world." (Cities and Local Governments - UCLG Committee on Social Inclusion, Participatory Democracy and Human rights, 2011), represents today one of the internationally unifying frameworks to operationalize human rights in the city through action plans. The charter-Agenda aims to produce tools for local governments to promote and build more inclusive, democratic and solidarity-based societies by involving the people in a participatory approach.

Local Governments and Human Rights

Local governments play an active role in the protection and promotion of human rights, in their capacity as representatives of the people and by the mandate of managing local affairs entrusted to them by the voters. In this regard, they are called to promote and strengthen the interdependence between the principles of human rights and local democracy.

In this context, the Agenda 21, a result of the Earth Summit (Rio, 1992) and confirmed by Rio + 20 - "The Future We Want", calls officials and elected local government to develop tools for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of local public policies. This intervention framework, closely related to the objectives of sustainable development, provides an operational reference framework of territorial development, in order to achieve the following results:

  • Ensuring social justice by: (i) the fulfillment of men and women; (ii) solidarity between regions; (iii) and respect for diversity;
  • Economic efficiency for an innovative, prosperous and responsible economy;
  • Environmental protection to ensure health and safety for communities and citizens and the preservation of biodiversity and resources.

These principles are designed to provide local authorities with tools for inclusive local policies integrating all stakeholders, especially women and youth. They must be evaluated to measure achievements and progress on levels of respect and implementation of human rights at the local, regional and national levels.

This framework for action must have as its corollary a participatory system of governance, in which local projects’ stakeholders, elected local officials, local authorities, associations and citizens can develop a synergy work and acquire ownership of the process. This framework is expected to be available in operational plans for local development, to promote productive, inclusive and sustainable societies.

Objective of the Workshop

To promote and strengthen the principles of human rights throughout the city, for a shared city project in the framework of participatory local democracy, for economically productive, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable cities.

Expected Results

  • To raise awareness and mobilize stakeholders in local development around the issue of human rights in the policies of the city, in order to improve the conditions of life of citizens and participation in a collective territorial project.
  • To advocate the necessity of including human rights in the urban policy-making before the local institutions and the proponents of human rights in order to achieve equitable, inclusive and sustainable cities.
  • To agree on the content and methods of implementation of instruments on human rights in the city, based on reference texts.
  • To share the best practices of human rights in the city, to ensure their appropriation and dissemination, through the exchange of experiences and national and international cooperation.
  • To adopt recommendations for the development of normative frameworks of human rights in the city, and their integration into public policy.