Friday, 19 October: Access to food & housing and to a sustainable and dignified life

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, is currently the most important document that codifies Human Rights. Among them, it defines the rights to food and housing, which are specifically mentioned in article 25:

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

If we want to ensure a sustainable and dignified life for all, it goes without saying that each government, authority and community should make efforts to guarantee food, house and security to their citizens. Yet, this point is for some controversial: its detractors claim that economic rights, like the right to have a job or a house, should not be guaranteed for all. These detractors are convinced that a job, a house, a meal should be rather earned and deserved, therefore these assets cannot be considered as unalienable Human Rights. But is it really like that? In order to find an answer to this question, we should reflect on two important points: the quantity of resources available in this world and the way they are handled. This perspective helps us clarify why the Right to Food and Housing are Human Rights.

In many regions of the world, people do not have access to resources because they are victims of unsustainable practices imposed in the name of profit by corporations, the financial system or governments: land grabbing, estate speculation, evictions, soil and water exploitation, pollution, overfishing, only to mention a few. Under these conditions, it becomes impossible to live a decent life. Resources are indeed available, but they are not equally distributed; or they are obtained imposing violent and aggressive measures which are often not sustainable, as they create environmental damages and social inequality. In such cases, how is it possible to find alternatives?

Through its projects, training courses, local and international initiatives (like “IVS 4 Climate Justice”), the IVS movement intends to provide a contribution to raise awareness on this issue and to support the communities who struggle to defend their rights. Such efforts were also highlighted by the GHRW, which included messages and contributions from stakeholders engaged in actions like environmental campaigns, awareness-raising activities and grass-roots initiatives. The promotion of the right to food and housing is strongly connected with the efforts to protect our environment. Through its grass-roots initiatives, the IVS movement intends to contribute both locally and globally to these tasks.

The African networks SAWC and WAVAN coordinated the 5th day of the GHRW. Here is SAWC opening post:

Raising Peace camp cards, testimonials from volunteers, quotes and example of thematic projects: day 5 of the GHRW cast a spotlight on the initiatives, engagement and contributions of IVS activists and organisations on the theme of Food & Housing.

In August 2018, SCI USA, the branch of Service Civil International based in the United States, organised a workcamp in cooperation with two Native American non-profit organizations, Tiyospaye Winyan Maka and The Oglala Lakota Cultural & Economic Revitalization Initiative (OLCERI). The aim was to support the building of a center to realize the cultural knowledge of the Native American people in agriculture. Initiatives like this one are an example of bottom-up, grassroots actions, which raise awareness on environmental challenges and strengthen the bonds between communities, local and international volunteers. The GHRW 2018 published links and contributions from the organisers, in order to give visibility to these interesting activities:

On day 5 of the GHRW. we highlighted news related to the topic of “Access to food & housing and to a sustainable and dignified life”. In these online articles, you will find stories which are not mentioned by main-stream media. Yet, they deserved to be heard and shared. The stories we shared included an article about Human Rights Defenders, an insight about First Nations people in Canada and a contribution on human rights and indigeneous people in Brazil. Last but not least, we posted an article by Volu-Ghana activist Dennis Kweku Moore about Human Rights in Africa and the following post from India, through VAP-UK activist Paul Winter:

The hashtag chosen for the GHRW was #OurRightsOurVoices. To include as many voices as possible in the event was essential, both to provide different perspectives and also to multiply our message, supporting like-minded organisations, institutions and campaigns. For this reason, we were glad to support the efforts of #justiceforkrenak, a campaign aimed to give visibility to the indigenous Krenak People in Brazil, suffering from pollution due to the irresponsible actions of a consortium of multinationals.

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