Saying that the Millennium Development Goals targeted the significant improvement millions of slum dwellers by the year 2020, the Executive Director said not only was the global community falling short of this target with an additional 50 million people having been added to the slums of the world in the past two years, but that the practices of forced evictions were worsening the lives of millions of urban poor each year.
“Acts such as forced evictions, pose one of the main barriers to the achievement of this target. Unfortunately this practice continues in a number of countries where the rights of citizens continue to be ignored – more particularly the rights of those who often do not have the capacity or voice to speak for themselves,” she said.
Her remarks were made at a news conference to announce the launch of the First Report of the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE). Mrs. Tibaijuka expressed satisfaction with unprecedented progress and change among UN-HABITAT partners, but hastened to add that she was dissatisfied with practices in a number of countries that continue to ignore the rights of some citizens.
“In such cases, it is the role of the United Nations to remind our partners of their obligations and encourage them to fully comply with those international agreements they have entered into,” she said.
She said UN-HABITAT had a long track record in working with its partners to improve the quality of life in world cities. The programmes it has initiated have directly enhanced the housing situation of urban populations all over the world and have contributed to sound policies, better management practices and more inclusive political environments.
“In many countries, our two campaigns for Secure Tenure and Urban Governance have been successful in raising awareness, bringing stakeholders together, creating conditions conducive to positive dialogues and positive attitudes and giving the urban poor a respected and responsible role,” she said.
AGFE group was established at the request of the UN-HABITAT Governing Council during its 19th session, following recommendations of the first World Urban Forum. Its mandate is to monitor and identify, and, if so requested, to promote alternatives to unlawful evictions. The group is composed of slum dweller associations, governments, local authorities, NGOs, and private sector professional organizations.
The report details the group’s work in the past year with an accounting of the successful fact finding missions to Curitiba, Brazil, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Rome, Italy at the request of the authorities in those countries. The report says the missions have resulted, for example, in a commission being sent up in Dominican Republic to discuss the enactment of a law on forced evictions and secure tenure and a moratorium on forced evictions for 12 months in Rome. In Curitiba, City Hall has requested that AGFE assist in the analysis of local housing legislation for further improvements.
“I want to assure the group that, I will give the utmost priority to reviewing the recommendations of the report and will make sure that UN-HABITAT will carry forward, in close collaboration with all partners those recommendations that I see leading to sustainable solutions.
“The Governing Council is working on a resolution that encourages Governments to support the conciliatory approach being promoting by the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions,” Mrs. Tibaijuka said.