World Zero Eviction Days 2006
An early start for this year’s series of World Zero Eviction Days, organised by the International Alliance of Inhabitants.
They will come to a close around the end of October. The campaign began on the 30th September with events organised by the Russian Tenants’ Movement , a body which was created during the Russian Social Forum to fight against privatisation leading to eviction. Over the next few weeks the campaign will continue, with dozens of initiatives taking place all over the globe. Demonstrations and initiatives include the setting up of an “anti-eviction” warning system in Latin America and the Caribbean, the entering into of negotiations with Kenya and Italy re Kenya’s debt (the aim being to convert this debt into money which could be used to improve living conditions in shanty towns), and events arranged around the meeting of European Union housing ministers (Barcelona, 16-17 October 2006) .
Zero Eviction – for the construction of ‘human towns’
Our chosen theme, “Upholding the right to housing, promoting dignity and security”, is central to any conception of urban life – it is the notion of residential security as the base upon which a ‘human town’ might be constructed.
While UN-HABITAT’s suggested theme for the traditional World Habitat Day was the rather optimistic “Towns: sources of Hope”, World Zero Eviction Days take a more vigorous approach, energetically promoting the proposals and demands made by social organisations: an end to demolitions and evictions, for example. We demand security of tenure, because we want to be the ones to build our towns. We demand greater power for local, national and international organisations that promote the right to housing and to the city, over market logic and discrimination.
Cries of outrage are needed to combat the evictions, demolitions and threats that take place every day in every corner of the world, from rich countries to poor. Poor countries are supported by the IAI’s international alert system and UN-HABITAT’s advisory group on forced evictions .
Fifteen percent of the world’s population are affected by this very serious problem. It is caused by foreign investment in high-debt countries, the privatisation and liberalisation of the housing sector, ethnic cleansing, wars, territorial occupation, and humans capitalising on natural disasters. And, while target 11 of the United Nations Millennium Declaration states that the living conditions of 100 million people will be improved by 2020, more realistic forecasts suggest that an additional 700 million will be living in shanty towns by the end of the decade.
Zero Eviction – for the right to the city
Zero Eviction notes that, considering the influence of neoliberal globalisation and the weakness of UN policy, even this very reasonable goal might prove to be but a pipe dream, such was the way in which the subject was presented at the recent World Urban Forum in Vancouver .
Faced with this desperate situation, hundreds of associations and movements from under the social/urban banner have come together, with the support of the IAI, to show the difference that unity can make; in Nairobi, in France, in Zimbabwe, in the Dominican Republic, in Italy, in Peru, in the UK, in Brazil, in India, in Argentina, in the USA, in Egypt, in Bangladesh, in Palestine, in Colombia, in Mali, in Mexico, in Uruguay, in Russia, in Hungary, in Spain, in Senegal, in Belgium, and in many other countries. These movements support the right of inhabitants, those that make cities what they are, to live in peace, security and dignity, at an affordable cost, where they like, for as long as they like.
All this constitutes the basis for the International Alliance of Inhabitants’ “Zero Eviction” campaign . The IAI has already become a point of reference and a uniting force for urban social movements all over the world. Through its seminars, meetings and campaigns, in collaboration with both grassroots associations and bodies such as the UN, the IAI has made many significant advances.
Zero Eviction – a catalyst for unity
Organised at discussions held at various Social Forums (the World Polycentric, European, Caribbean, Migrations, and Russian forums) , the World Urban Forum and the Africities meeting, not to mention a number of other regional initiatives (the General Assembly on housing and city, and the Truth Commission in the USA ), the 2006 Zero Eviction Days will succeed most in their ability to raise awareness and bring people together – they are catalysts for unity.
Particularly significant is the campaign led jointly by the IAI and the IUT (International Union of Tenants), a long-running organisation which has decided to base its National Tenants Day around the theme “No more unwarranted evictions! No more inhuman evictions!”. This campaign was also led during the European Social Forum in Athens , uniting the IAI, the organisation NO-VOX, and the Habitat International Coalition (HIC). It was further supported by HIC’s declaration against privatisation and evictions as part of World Habitat Day. All this is testament to the gradual construction of a common front which will eventually have sufficient sway to formulate realistic policies regarding housing and the city – policies based on human rights.
The next stage
New “Zero Eviction” campaigns; the World Social Forum (Nairobi, 20-25 January 2007), during which the IAI will propose the strengthening of the international alert system; collaboration with local bodies and governments that support the “Zero Eviction” policies; organising the World Assembly of Inhabitants.