Laws and effects of their application can either facilitate or undermine human rights and inclusivity. The urban space represents an area in which the paradoxical nature of legal frameworks is exhibited. On the positive aspect, urban law can provide a framework through which various public and private interests are mediated especially in relation to land use and development. It can offer a stable and predictable framework for public and private sector action and give an avenue for the inclusion of the interests of vulnerable groups. Nonetheless, urban law can also, deliberately or inadvertently, undermine the enjoyment of Human Rights by promoting exclusion, marginalization and poverty.
This publication seeks to assess the impact of legal frameworks within the urban context using international Human Rights standards and the New Urban Agenda as the starting point. It examines six key development areas that UN-Habitat focuses on which are also where the potency of the law on Human Rights is greatest. These areas are Land, Urban Planning, Urban Economy, Housing, Basic Services and Urban Governance. The intention is to identify the points within urban legal frameworks where the enjoyment of Human Rights is undermined either through the substance of the law or through the overall manner in which the legal regime is structured. Proposals for reform are also suggested in line with the Agenda’s commitment to “leave no one behind.”