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logo of United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II)


  United Nations


A/CONF.165/14 





General Assembly

Distr: General
14 June 1996
Original: Arabic/ English/ Spanish

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The Habitat Agenda: Chapter II: Goals and Principles

Contents | Istanbul Declaration | Preamble | Goals & Principles | Commitments | Global Plan of Action

The Habitat Agenda

Chapter II - Goals and Principles

22. The objectives of the Habitat Agenda are in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law.

23. While the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of all States to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.

24. Implementation of the Habitat Agenda, including implementation through national laws and development priorities, programmes and policies, is the sovereign right and responsibility of each State in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, and taking into account the significance of and with full respect for various religious and ethical values, cultural backgrounds, and philosophical convictions of individuals and their communities, contributing to the full enjoyment by all of their human rights in order to achieve the objectives of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development.

25. We, the States participating in the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II), are committed to a political, economic, environmental, ethical and spiritual vision of human settlements based on the principles of equality, solidarity, partnership, human dignity, respect and cooperation. We adopt the goals and principles of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world. We believe that attaining these goals will promote a more stable and equitable world that is free from injustice and conflict and will contribute to a just, comprehensive and lasting peace. Civil, ethnic and religious strife, violations of human rights, alien and colonial domination, foreign occupation, economic imbalances, poverty, organized crime, terrorism in all its forms, and corruption are destructive to human settlements and should therefore be denounced and discouraged by all States, which should cooperate to achieve the elimination of such practices and all unilateral measures impeding social and economic development. At the national level we will reinforce peace by promoting tolerance, non-violence and respect for diversity and by settling disputes by peaceful means. At the local level, the prevention of crime and the promotion of sustainable communities are essential to the attainment of safe and secure societies. Crime prevention through social development is one crucial key to these goals. At the international level, we will promote international peace and security and make and support all efforts to settle international disputes by peaceful means, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

26. We reaffirm and are guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the full realization of the human rights set out in international instruments and in particular, in this context, the right to adequate housing as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and provided for in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, taking into account that the right to adequate housing, as included in the above-mentioned international instruments, shall be realized progressively. We reaffirm that all human rights - civil, cultural, economic, political and social - are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. We subscribe to the principles and goals set out below to guide us in our actions.

I

27. Equitable human settlements are those in which all people, without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, have equal access to housing, infrastructure, health services, adequate food and water, education and open spaces. In addition, such human settlements provide equal opportunity for a productive and freely chosen livelihood; equal access to economic resources, including the right to inheritance, the ownership of land and other property, credit, natural resources and appropriate technologies; equal opportunity for personal, spiritual, religious, cultural and social development; equal opportunity for participation in public decision-making; equal rights and obligations with regard to the conservation and use of natural and cultural resources; and equal access to mechanisms to ensure that rights are not violated. The empowerment of women and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, whether rural or urban, are fundamental to sustainable human settlements development.

II

28. The eradication of poverty is essential for sustainable human settlements. The principle of poverty eradication is based on the framework adopted by the World Summit for Social Development and on the relevant outcomes of other major United Nations conferences, including the objective of meeting the basic needs of all people, especially those living in poverty and disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, particularly in the developing countries where poverty is acute, as well as the objective of enabling all women and men to attain secure and sustainable livelihoods through freely chosen and productive employment and work.

III

29. Sustainable development is essential for human settlements development, and gives full consideration to the needs and necessities of achieving economic growth, social development and environmental protection. Special consideration should be given to the specific situation and needs of developing countries and, as appropriate, of countries with economies in transition. Human settlements shall be planned, developed and improved in a manner that takes full account of sustainable development principles and all their components, as set out in Agenda 21 and related outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development. Sustainable human settlements development ensures economic development, employment opportunities and social progress, in harmony with the environment. It incorporates, together with the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, which are equally important, and other outcomes of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, the principles of the precautionary approach, pollution prevention, respect for the carrying capacity of ecosystems, and preservation of opportunities for future generations. Production, consumption and transport should be managed in ways that protect and conserve the stock of resources while drawing upon them. Science and technology have a crucial role in shaping sustainable human settlements and sustaining the ecosystems they depend upon. Sustainability of human settlements entails their balanced geographical distribution or other appropriate distribution in keeping with national conditions, promotion of economic and social development, human health and education, and the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainable use of its components, and maintenance of cultural diversity as well as air, water, forest, vegetation and soil qualities at standards sufficient to sustain human life and well-being for future generations.

IV

30. The quality of life of all people depends, among other economic, social, environmental and cultural factors, on the physical conditions and spatial characteristics of our villages, towns and cities. City lay-out and aesthetics, land-use patterns, population and building densities, transportation and ease of access for all to basic goods, services and public amenities have a crucial bearing on the liveability of settlements. This is particularly important to vulnerable and disadvantaged persons, many of whom face barriers in access to shelter and in participating in shaping the future of their settlements. People's need for community and their aspirations for more liveable neighbourhoods and settlements should guide the process of design, management and maintenance of human settlements. Objectives of this endeavour include protecting public health, providing for safety and security, education and social integration, promoting equality and respect for diversity and cultural identities, increased accessibility for persons with disabilities, and preservation of historic, spiritual, religious and culturally significant buildings and districts, respecting local landscapes and treating the local environment with respect and care. The preservation of the natural heritage and historical human settlements, including sites, monuments and buildings, particularly those protected under the UNESCO Convention on World Heritage Sites, should be assisted, including through international cooperation. It is also of crucial importance that spatial diversification and mixed use of housing and services be promoted at the local level in order to meet the diversity of needs and expectations.

V

31. The family is the basic unit of society and as such should be strengthened. It is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support. In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses, and husband and wife should be equal partners. The rights, capabilities and responsibilities of family members must be respected. Human settlements planning should take into account the constructive role of the family in the design, development and management of such settlements. Society should facilitate, as appropriate, all necessary conditions for its integration, reunification, preservation, improvement, and protection within adequate shelter and with access to basic services and a sustainable livelihood.

VI

32. All people have rights and must also accept their responsibility to respect and protect the rights of others - including future generations - and to contribute actively to the common good. Sustainable human settlements are those that, inter alia, generate a sense of citizenship and identity, cooperation and dialogue for the common good, and a spirit of voluntarism and civic engagement, where all people are encouraged and have an equal opportunity to participate in decision-making and development. Governments at all appropriate levels, including local authorities, have a responsibility to ensure access to education and to protect their population's health, safety and general welfare. This requires, as appropriate, establishing policies, laws and regulations for both public and private activities, encouraging responsible private activities in all fields, facilitating community groups' participation, adopting transparent procedures, encouraging public-spirited leadership and public-private partnerships, and helping people to understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities through open and effective participatory processes, universal education and information dissemination.

VII

33. Partnerships among countries and among all actors within countries from public, private, voluntary and community-based organizations, the cooperative sector, non-governmental organizations and individuals are essential to the achievement of sustainable human settlements development and the provision of adequate shelter for all and basic services. Partnerships can integrate and mutually support objectives of broad-based participation through, inter alia, forming alliances, pooling resources, sharing knowledge, contributing skills and capitalizing on the comparative advantages of collective actions. The processes can be made more effective by strengthening civil organizations at all levels. Every effort must be made to encourage the collaboration and partnership of all sectors of society and among all actors in decision-making processes, as appropriate.

VIII

34. Solidarity with those belonging to disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, including people living in poverty, as well as tolerance, non-discrimination and cooperation among all people, families and communities are foundations for social cohesion. Solidarity, cooperation and assistance should be enhanced by the international community as well as by States and all other relevant actors in response to the challenges of human settlements development. The international community and Governments at all appropriate levels are called upon to promote sound and effective policies and instruments, thereby strengthening cooperation among Governments and non-governmental organizations, as well as to mobilize complementary resources to meet these challenges.

IX

35. To safeguard the interests of present and future generations in human settlements is one of the fundamental goals of the international community. The formulation and implementation of strategies for human settlements development are primarily the responsibility of each country at the national and local levels within the legal framework of each country, inter alia, by creating an enabling environment for human settlements development, and should take into account the economic, social and environmental diversity of conditions in each country. New and additional financial resources from various sources are necessary to achieve the goals of adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development in an urbanizing world. The existing resources available to developing countries - public, private, multilateral, bilateral, domestic and external - need to be enhanced through appropriate and flexible mechanisms and economic instruments to support adequate shelter for all and sustainable human settlements development. These should be accompanied by concrete measures for international technical cooperation and information exchange.

X

36. Human health and quality of life are at the centre of the effort to develop sustainable human settlements. We therefore commit ourselves to promoting and attaining the goals of universal and equal access to quality education, the highest attainable standard of physical, mental and environmental health, and the equal access of all to primary health care, making particular efforts to rectify inequalities relating to social and economic conditions, including housing, without distinction as to race, national origin, gender, age, or disability, respecting and promoting our common and particular cultures. Good health throughout the life-span of every man and woman, good health for every child, and quality education for all are fundamental to ensuring that people of all ages are able to develop their full capacities in health and dignity and to participate fully in the social, economic and political processes of human settlements, thus contributing, inter alia, to the eradication of poverty. Sustainable human settlements depend on the interactive development of policies and concrete actions to provide access to food and nutrition, safe drinking water, sanitation, and universal access to the widest range of primary health-care services, consistent with the report of the International Conference on Population and Development; to eradicate major diseases that take a heavy toll of human lives, particularly childhood diseases; to create safe places to work and live; and to protect the environment.


Contents | Istanbul Declaration | Preamble | Goals & Principles | Commitments | Global Plan of Action