CNJUR: Urban Lab ''Ecuador: Legal Course Towards Habitat III''

CNJUR: Urban Lab ''Ecuador: Legal Course Towards Habitat III''

Ecuador, host of the Habitat III Conference brings the discussion of the legal framework before, during and after Habitat III to the table. The City of Riobamba, Ecuador was the host of the ''Urban Thinkers Campus'' (UTC). The event as part of an initiative of the World Urban Campaing, the Urban Campaign ''My City My Choice'', the National Organization of Architecture Students of Ecuador (ONEA) and the Municipality of Riobamba, constituted an open space that gathered important international urbanism stakeholders to exchange ideas and elaborate proposal s to tackle the challenges presented by urbanization and a better urban future. 

During the debates and labs, the experts agreed on the need to consolidate the applicable legal principles for urban centers, which develop human rights, consider an integral view of territory and propose a new legal course for urbanism worldwide. Lawyers. architects, engineers, judges, public officials, researchers, environmental specialists form Brasil, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain and Colombia explored the new legal paradigms that should be implemented towards Habitat III. Some of the topics discussed were the following: 

People neither know nor understand legislation or legal instruments for urban planning. This automatically has as a result that key decisions remain in a circle of specialists with particular sectorial interests. Social stakeholders generally are not creators of governmental decisions, due to the fact that these are considered to be monopolized by the authorities. The call for citizen participation is made through consultations, where opinions are given and only a few stakeholders selected by authorities or by the law participate. The city as an entity, belongs to society. Thus,citizens are co-owners of public spaces that conform the city, which is why they must participate directly in the decisions that concern such spaces, because they affect human rights of the residents of human settlements.

Likewise, latinamerican urban legislation does not recognize, develop, nor protect human rights in cities and urban-rural centers of population broadly. The current urbanistic legal framework does not give citizens the tools and legal instruments to enforce their rights in the cities. Even though some legislations vaguely recognize the right to habitat or the right to the city (for example, the Statue of the City Brasil or the political constitutions of Ecuador and Bolivia), the contents are still very poor and do not guarantee the full exercise of human rights in population centers yet, nor they establish regulations to prevent their violation. In any case, citizens  have to resort to judicial tribunals, who are resulting to be the new creators of urbanism. 

In conclusion with an obsolete, disjointed, inefficient, non binding, obese, contradictory, insufficient, and with a lack of social legitimization legal frameworks the fulfillment of human rights in urban centers will not go far.

Article by CNJUR
Photo Credits: CNJUR (CC)