on cities and other human settlements in the new
At Habitat II, The Istanbul Declaration and the
Habitat Agenda adopted by 171 Governments committed
them to innovative ways of working to improve
the urban environment. Before endorsing either
of these documents, Government representatives
were careful to assess and analyse the full implications
of each commitment. Much of this negotiation was
carried out during the preparatory process. Even
so, before the documents were unanimously accepted
at Habitat II, last minute details were discussed
until the early hours of the morning.
Istanbul + 5, Governments will negotiate and endorse
a ‘Declaration on cities and other human settlements
in the new millennium.” This declaration as it
was drafted during the preparatory process is
divided into 4 sections. The first renews commitments
to the Habitat Agenda; the second commends progress
made in the implementation of the Habitat Agenda;
the third recognizes gaps and obstacles to its
implementation; and the fourth sets out forward-looking
strategies and commitments.
of the text of the draft declaration has been
negotiated during the preparatory process. Some
elements of it, now found in brackets, remain
to be agreed upon during the Special Session in
New York. Some of the more contentious issues
that remain to be resolved are:
to Adequate Shelter
Housing rights was a controversial issue at Habitat
II. Strongly supported by members of civil society
participating in the conference, the right to
housing was objected to by many Governments who
were particularly concerned about the legal implications
of such a commitment within their national contexts.
In view of their concerns, ‘the right to adequate
shelter’ was the formulation that was finally
accepted. This language, contained in paragraphs
26, 39 and 61 of the Habitat Agenda, among others,
was based on earlier conventions and declarations.
Though the Habitat Agenda will not be subject
to negotiations at Istanbul + 5, reference to
the right to adequate housing in the draft declaration
is still controversial.
self-governance and decentralization
The Habitat Agenda recognizes the importance of
decentralization and the delegation of power to
local authorities. This was also very controversial
at Habitat II. It is expected that some delegations
may again object to the inclusion of local self-governance
in the final version of the declaration.
The equal right of women to inherit and own property
has been controversial since the negotiations
for the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action. Even
though the Habitat Agenda recognizes the principle
of gender equality, clauses in the draft Declaration
about women’s security of tenure and their right
to own property are still in brackets. This could
be a contentious issue during Istanbul + 5.
In common with many UN documents, the draft declaration
calls for developed countries to honour their
earlier commitment to target 0.7 per cent of their
Gross National Product for development assistance.
This clause is also in brackets.
further information, please contact:
Sharad Shankardass, Spokesperson, or
Zahra A. Hassan,
Media & Press Relations Unit,
Tel: (254 2) 623153, 623151,
Fax: (254 2) 624060,