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The Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City (Mexico, 2010)

The Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City is the product of an initiative developed by a diverse group of organizations of the urban popular movement and negotiated with the Federal District (Mexico City) government beginning in 2007.

In October of that year, in accordance with an agreement reached with the Head of Government, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubón, a meeting was held with the heads of several city ministries to present the strategic foundations of the Charter, along with the previous documents leading up to the Charter, and outlining the first steps for its formulation.

Within the framework of the Mexican Chapter of the World Social Forum held in Mexico City’s central plaza (the “Zócalo”) in late January 2008, an urban roundtable was held over the course of three days on the Right to the City, marking the initiation of public debate on the theme.

In April 2008, a Promotion Committee was established to oversee the debate and negotiation process of the Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City. The Committee was initially integrated by the Urban Popular Movement of the National Democratic Congress (MUP-CND), the Mexico City Ministry of Government, the Latin American office of Habitat International Coalition (HIC-AL), and the Federal District Human Rights Commission (CDHDF), later being joined by the Coordinator of Civil Organizations on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Espacio DESC) and the Federal District Social Attorney’s Office (PROSOC).

One of the first tasks of the Promotion Committee was to convoke a public act held in the former Corpus Christi Temple in July 2008. The purpose of this event was to open the process of formulation and consultation of the items to be included in the Charter. The First Forum towards the Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City, held on 1 December of that year, brought together civil and social organization delegates, academics, public functionaries, and other actors interested in and committed to urban issues. The participants formulated contributions toward each of the six strategic foundations around which the contents of the Charter are organized.

A few months later, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, the Promotion Committee installed a tent within the Human Rights Fair held in the Mexico City Zócalo. Various activities directed toward children, adolescents and adults were offered in the Right to the City tent.

The material gathered through these activities and contributions developed by Promotion Committee members were then used to begin the process of Charter integration. The World Charter for the Right to the City and the results and proposals from the First World Assembly of Urban Inhabitants held in Mexico City in the year 2000 served as basic references for this task.

A second public act was held in February 2009 in the Mexico City Theatre to publicize and disseminate the Charter process and to invite different sectors to participate in its formulation. A member of the Promotion Committee outlined the situation of the city and the purposes and orientations of the Charter, as well as the importance that this instrument contribute to other anticipated processes such as local political reform and the formulation of the Federal District Constitution, among others. For his part, the Head of Government, Marcelo Ebrard, emphasized the strategic value of this process, so that “the city we dream of can become reality.”

Close to 3,000 people participated in at least one of these three events. In reference to the substantive work underway on the specific drafting of the Charter beginning in June 2008, the Promotion Committee held more than 30 meetings for the coordination, discussion, systematization and drafting of the contents and to continually monitor and evaluate the Charter process.

In that framework, the Promotion Committee elaborated the booklet, Por nuestro derecho a la ciudad (“For our right to the city”), integrating relevant texts for dissemination and analysis of the theme. The contents and discussions on the Right to the City and the process toward its recognition and implementation in Mexico City were further and more broadly disseminated through a blog, a pamphlet, and a video prepared for this purpose.

Members of the Promotion Committee participated in conferences, courses, workshops, and radio programmes to disseminate information on the Right to the City theme and to provoke reflection and gather critiques of and contributions to the Charter. One of the results of these activities was the organization of a children’s painting contest on “the city we want” held in the Mexico City Delegation of Azcapotzalco by one of the social organizations participating in the promotion of the Charter.

On 28 September 2009, a draft of the Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City was submitted to the Head of Government. A pamphlet was disseminated at the same time to further expand awareness and discussion of the Charter as part of a new period of contributions to the text.

In December 2009, on the occasion of the eighth Mexico City Human Rights Fair, a tent was again installed in the Mexico City Zócalo to collect new contributions and suggestions from Fair participants.

The formulation of the Charter contents included processes to systematize contributions gathered from diverse actors, alongside the examination and consultation of important reference documents, which include, among others, the following local texts: the Mexico City Diagnosis (2008) and Human Rights Program (2009); the Educational and Knowledge City Program (2008); contributions from the Mexico City Citizen’s Council for Sustainable Urban Development; and the consultation on The police we want (2008).

International texts consulted include several related to the Right to the City theme, including: the World Charter for the Right to the City and multiple texts from the discussions that developed over the course of the process toward the World Charter; instruments on human rights in the city from different countries, and relevant declarations and conceptual documents from various authors.

In March 2010, during the Fifth World Urban Forum organized by UN-Habitat and the Ministry of Cities of Brazil, the Draft Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City was presented. The purpose of this event was to discuss its collective construction process as well as its basic foundations and conceptual concepts.

The Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City is fruit of this broad process, and its formal signature into power opens a new phase oriented to guarantee the legal recognition and implementation of this new human right. This would not have been possible without the participation of all the persons and organizations who contributed to this citizen initiative and for the support given by the Mexico City government for its concrete realization. Expectations are that this Charter will serve as a transcendental step in the consolidation of ‘the city we dream of and the city we want to build’.

To download the Mexico City Charter for the Right to the City click here