The Urban Legal Network (ULN) is an initiative of UN-Habitat. Its aim is to become a leading global network that promotes and facilitates the exchange of urban legal knowledge in the field of urban development. ULN is a global focal point for:

  • Urban legal knowledge and idea exchange;
  • Urban legislation best practice and tools; and
  • Urban legal partnerships and experts in the urban legislation field.

The Network is based on the belief that good urban legal knowledge and robust urban legislation are fundamental for developing innovative, inclusive, and productive cities. Importantly, good urban legislation is vital for improving the lives of everyday people within cities and is thus fundamental to urban planning and development initiatives. If decision makers, planners, organizations, and citizens in cities have access to this knowledge in one spot, they can use and adapt this information to strengthen their specific urban contexts.

Urban legal knowledge and the urban development paradigm

UN-Habitat has recently re-stated its view of the urban development paradigm, including the views that:

  • Robust legislative frameworks must underpin all planning;
  • On-going dialogue is necessary between legislation, policy, and planning to ensure relevance, innovation, and a capacity to meet the future challenges facing cities;
  • Development and planning must have a clear and unequivocal rights based approach; and local governments provide an exciting entry point for change, and should be encouraged to create enabling regulations.


Rights based legislation


UN-Habitat also believes that ‘rights based’ legislation can help to promote participation, and UN-Habitat is therefore committed to the daily involvement of urban dwellers in the development decisions and planning outcomes that affect their daily lives. UN-Habitat’s work on Urban Law operates on several levels:

  •  Developing programmes among UN-Habitat branches and offices, as well as other partners, to deliver integrated packages of assistance for urban development.
  • Developing innovative approaches, tools, and methodologies to address particular problems in urban law reform.
  • Creating and sharing information about urban law.

UN-Habitat places a priority on practical interventions that are tailored to national and local contexts and needs.

In undertaking this work, UN-Habitat places a priority on practical interventions that are tailored to national and local contexts and needs. These priorities depend upon effective partnerships with local authorities, local experts, and affected communities. Through this approach, UN-Habitat provides the support local and national governments need to incrementally improve their urban legal frameworks while also developing innovative solutions to shape future urban development.

Urban Legal Network Forum

The ULN Forum is a way to gauge which key aspects of urban law interest you. By participating, you help us to learn about which urban law areas and issues are most important for you, and what we should consider.

The ULN Forum Themes include:

  •        General principles governing urban law;

  •        Property law and tenure;

  •        Governance (Administrative Law);

  •        Planning;

  •        Housing and Buildings regulations;

  •        Infrastructure and basic services;

  •        Municipal taxation, finance, and economic development;

  •        Environment, natural, and cultural resources; and

  •        Urban resilience and post disaster recovery.


Urban Legal Network