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Towards the World Assembly of Inhabitants and beyond

From the 26th to the 30th of March, as part of the World Social Forum, the city of Tunis will host the next World Assembly of Inhabitants (WAI), supported by international networks and inhabitants organisations, such as the IAI, HIC and No-Vox, and in collaboration with local social organisations. Everyone is invited to take part in this key stage in the process of bringing together the various struggles for the right to housing, cities, land and common goods, follow up of WAI Dakar 2011 and of a year filled with opportunities for inhabitants to have their voices heard on a global level.

The inhabitants’ challenge: help in the struggle to avert the crisis by way of a systemic alternative

The fact that there are more than a billion people living in poor housing or homeless, a number increasing dramatically as 70 million live under the threat of eviction due to the impossibility of paying housing costs, town planning projects, privatisation of common goods, land grabbing, wars, political decisions which favour and exploit climate change and disasters, all point to the failure of neoliberal policies. The problem is a structural crisis of civilisation, resulting from the implementation of financial and urban policies subordinated to transnational capital that are marked in particular by the dramatic consequences of the arising housing and global crisis, which has struck a large part of humanity on every continent, leaving poverty in its wake.

All this clearly highlights the necessity of finding a concrete solution by making radical shifts in the paradigms which govern policies and our societies, not just by offering buffer solutions.

To help bring this about, increasing the scale of the challenge, inhabitants organisations and social urban movements have decided to take a decisive step to go beyond declarations and good practices. The challenge is to determine the strategies and collective actions, involving proposals, a programme, an organisational model and the strengthening of alliances with a view to making revolutionary and systemic changes. That is to say, restructure a Social Urban Pact for human rights, the environment and the responsibility of inhabitants to be builders and co-governors, and not just consumers-users of their territories.


Different initiatives for discussion, proposals and inhabitants’ struggles, but all on the same page

In Tunis there will be a series of initiatives, meetings, workshops and rallies organised by the different networks and inhabitants organisations in the spaces of World Social Forum and in poorer districts, to feed with contents and operational proposals the final Assembly of convergence.

In view in particular of the housing and urban problems which are affecting the people of this country despite the Arab Spring breaking out here, the WAI will also act as a useful meeting point for local social organisations.

In addition to launching and participating in the initiatives proposed by other organisations, IAI is participating in this unifying organisational dynamic along with a number of organisations and networks:

The “International Meeting: Leaving the market to decently house one billion people” , provides a real opportunity for exchange, reflexion and discussion between the players who are looking to start afresh in finding prospective solutions to the global-local housing crisis across public services and the cooperative sector. A good example here is the offer made by the Popular Funds  to cultivate the resources which have been freed up thanks to the cancelation of foreign debt in poorer nations. 

The “International Meeting of victims of the housing markets” which follows on from the agreements made at the Urban Social Forum (USF) in Naples. The main objective is to join efforts in the struggles to confront with solidarity the issue of housing insecurity for economic motives, including the eviction of tenants, seizures of mortgaged property and property fraud. The main aims of the Meeting are to strengthen international solidarity with local struggles, to define common tools for analysis, early warning and solidarity and to produce a declaration indicating the next steps to be taken.

The “International Meeting: Zero Evictions and Stop Land Grabbing campaigns, supporting the popular sovereignty of the territories” for exchanging experiences and the strategies used by inhabitants organisations in cities and the countryside, including Via Campesina, who are all engaged in the struggle against all forms of expulsion (evictions, decamping, displacement, land grabbing). Some tools for working together will be presented at this meeting, including the Guide for Zero Evictions, and a call for cases will be launched in preparation for the International Tribunal for Evictions session, which will take place in Geneva during the next World Habitat Day in October.

The “International Meeting: “Towards a Pan-African network of inhabitants organisations” , a real opportunity for exchange, reflexion and discussion to promote the creation of an international network of inhabitants organisations from all African regions.

The initiative, which is supported by a continued process and follows on from the unifying efforts that were achieved during the Africities Summit in Dakar in December 2012, is coordinated by a steering committee which includes the principal inhabitants organisations engaged in the struggles for the right to housing, land and common goods in different countries of the continent.


The strategic importance of the World Assembly of Inhabitants

Led by the inhabitants movements, the WAI constitutes an arena for players who struggle from their districts, each with their own programmes and priorities, creating an investment policy which generates hope.

These initiatives will therefore be significant, not only in aiding discussions and decisions, but also – and perhaps most importantly – in promoting the further development of joint and propositive mobilisations in which social organisations from every country play a principal role and count on international solidarity.

The WAI process is therefore located within this framework, promoting closer ties between inhabitants organisations and social urban movements on world, regional, national and local scales, which is essential for being up to this challenge.

This is a process which campaigns for the creation of the Urban and Community Way, uniting the inhabitants organisations and the social urban movements on a world scale. An arena and common path, not a bureaucratic superstructure, where the networks of inhabitants, whilst maintaining their independence, can share their experiences, draw up strategies and platforms, strengthen solidarity with the g-local struggles, and have common tools.

It is a proposal by the inhabitants, open and in progress.

Other social players, local and national progressive, are all invited for dialogue to promote the success of the IAI, and beyond.


How to take part in the WAI 2013

For more information, to express your availability and to take part in the WAI, all those interested are invited to contact the inhabitants organisations or the reference networks.

Or simply write to us at:amh-wai2013@habitants.org

Lugar al que se aplica este artículo

El(la) siguiente Traductor(a) Voluntario(a) por el derecho a la vivienda sin fronteras de la AIH colaboró con la traducción de este texto:

Chloe Spreadborough


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