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What is the International Tribunal of Evictions?

The International Tribunal on Evictions (ITE) is a peoples’ and opinion tribunal established in 2011 by the International Alliance of Inhabitants and civil society organisations for the World Zero Evictions Days to practically and interactively put forced evictions from around the world in the dock. The Tribunal relies on the expertise of an international Jury of well-respected and competent individuals, as well as on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and other instruments of international law, in order to pass judgement on real cases of forced evictions that constitute human rights violations.

The International Tribunal on Evictions (ITE) is a peoples’ and opinion tribunal established in 2011 by the International Alliance of Inhabitants and civil society organisations for the World Zero Evictions Days to practically and interactively put forced evictions from around the world in the dock. The Tribunal relies on the expertise of an international Jury of well-respected and competent individuals, as well as on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and other instruments of international law, in order to pass judgement on real cases of forced evictions that constitute human rights violations.

The ITE is a powerful tool of the Zero Evictions Campaign, a part of “The Urban and Community Way” strategy to encourage the convergence of popular organisations, giving more visibility and support to the campaigns, struggles and the victories that are taking place.

This way, supporting Alternative Social Pacts, based on human and environmental rights, and the responsibility of the inhabitants to be responsible towards future generations.

The evictions: the hidden agenda of neoliberal policies

The situation of the planet reflects the catastrophe caused by neoliberalism: today, more than 1,2 billion people are homeless or poorly housed, 1,2 billion live on one dollar a day, 2 billion are hungry and 2,4 billion do not have access to drinking water. Women are estimated to be the majority of affected persons, as reported by the Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing1.

In particular, the most neglected collateral effect of neoliberal policies are the evictions that affect more than an estimated 70 million people all over the world, often hidden by international institutions, despite being the source of numerous human rights violations, through dispossession / displacement because of the financialization of real estate, public-private-partnerships, the impact of austerity policies, mega-projects (mines, dams, airports, among others), the tourism industry (including mega-events, “disneysation”, “museification”, gentrification, among others), war (foreign occupation, building military bases, etc.), post- disaster policies (risk prevention, resilience, among others), climate change, racial discrimination and/or sexism.

Evictions are a growing phenomenon for which official data do not exist. This estimate is derived from the field indicators, i.e. alerts and campaigns disseminated internationally by social organizations and networks, and data collected by the International Tribunal of Evictions and the Zero Evictions Campaigns.

The conflicts that often confront the inhabitants' organizations facing decision-makers on crucial themes, such as evictions and the policies of popular housing, are increasingly exposing the links between the local and the global but, in general, exclude affected inhabitants from the rooms where strategic decisions are made.

Unfortunately, UN Habitat, in spite of the seriousness and magnitude of the phenomenon of evictions, removed this issue from its agenda (e.g. the dissolution of the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions, or the cancellation of the indicator "forced evictions" from its Slum Index, among others).

At present, the New Urban Agenda, approved by the United Nations Habitat III Conference in 2016, emphasizes the urban future as the only one for humanity, as well as cities being the engine of this unlimited development. Human rights, instead of being inalienable paradigms, are seen as problems to be solved by practices and policies based on resilience, i.e. adaptation to the neoliberal city.

To tackle this hidden agenda, the International Alliance of Inhabitants has launched the International Tribunal of Evictions, a People's Tribunal of opinion with a significant moral and media weight.

History of the Tribunal

The International Tribunal of Evictions has its origins in the World Social Forum and the World Assembly of Inhabitants, Dakar 2011 as the main activity of the World Zero Evictions Days, every year in October, in collaboration with international networks and local organizations.

The idea was to bring together actors from the North and South on the topic of housing and land rights violations, as main event of the World Zero Evictions Days.

On that basis, the first sessions were held in Geneva since 2011, together with PALC Genève (Productions A La Chaine) and the Swiss Section of Amnesty International, and in Milan (2014) parallel to the informal meeting of European Union ministers of social cohesion.

The 5th Global Session was organized in October 2016 in Quito, Ecuador as an integral part of the People's Social Forum Resistance to Habitat III which was held in parallel with, and autonomously from, the United Nations Habitat III Conference.

To highlight the scale of the ITE commitment, the Regional Session for East Asia (Taipei, July 2016) and the 5th Global Session (Quito, October 2016), received and examined a total of 115 cases, involving almost 2 million people from all continents.

As for its impact, it is important to cite the case of Monte Sinai, Guayaquil, examined at the opening of the ITE

1 Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, Raquel Rolnik (A/HRC/19/5, 26 December 2011)

Session in Ecuador despite the destruction of the venue in the community and intimidation by the local police. The Recommendation to create the zone "Monte Sinai Zero Evictions" to protect the 5,000 threatened families is now the subject of concrete negotiations between the organizations of inhabitants and the government.

The ITE, which has given voice to thousands of voiceless people, especially victims and those at risk of evictions, is not limited to judging, but advocates for the implementation of Recommendations for the positive solution of cases through periodic monitoring and local / global solidarity mobilization.

This Tribunal has now become a reference point and a joint tool for a growing number of popular organizations around the world.

What are the objectives of the Tribunal?

  • To make cases of forced evictions known to a wide audience by giving an international platform to the people and communities who are struggling against forced evictions and for the right to adequate housing and land.
  • To bring to light all kinds of threats and violence that are carried out against the defenders of human rights who fight for the right to housing and land.
  • To examine the selected cases, issue a judgment and make formal Recommendations to address the situation with due respect to the affected people’s human rights, to the various stakeholders, including the United Nations and National Governments, the economic and institutional actors responsible for the evictions, and to civic organizations helping them enforce their demands by the authorities.
  • Those Recommendations are not merely a support for the demands and struggles but a contribution to a roadmap of Alternative Social Pacts, aiming to involve all relevant stakeholders (social, professional, institutional) in order to implement positive solutions to evictions based on the respect for all rights and our responsibility toward future generations. To do this, the ITE promotes the building of convergences, alliances and partnerships. Those Recommendations will be monitored on regular basis by the ITE together with local organisations and implemented by the local/global mobilisation of the inhabitants and their allies. How the Tribunal works  The Session on Tourism is organized following the Guidelines 2017 approved by the ITE International Steering Committee.
    These Guidelines must be followed by organizations, citizens and inhabitants movements who are willing to hold Sessions of the ITE in their countries or in their cities, signing specific Memorandum of Understanding with the ITE Steering Committee. Selection of cases  Following the dissemination of an international ‘Call for cases’ on the websites of the Tribunal, the IAI and other partner organisations, all people or organisation can present online cases of evictions by July 15th 2017. The 2017 Session of the ITE will examine all forms of evictions related to tourism, of housing, communities, urban farmers, street vendors, craftspeople, fishermen, resulting from market, urban project, land grabbing, “disneysation” “museification”, infrastructures, post-disaster resilience policies, among others. They could be:
  • Individual or collective cases
  • Evictions through the market and/or the governments, often hidden or less visible, but massive in general terms
  • Forced evictions, which, in international terminology, are those in violation of the right to adequate housing by the United Nations
  • Forced evictions considered unfair by victims.
  • All forms of spoliation and dispossessions related to ownership and use of land. It is therefore quite possible that ITE Session will also consider cases of evictions that were carried out following a formal national judgment, but which violate either international law or the ethical values recognized by the ITE. The ITE distinguishes three types of situations and considers them all:
  • Those evictions which have already taken place, leading to the displacement of families, eviction from their houses or lands, demolition of houses, but also in many cases the destruction of entire neighbourhoods, ones that have been there for many years.
  • Those in which the eviction process is underway or imminent.
  • Those in which there is a short-term foreseeable threat of eviction. The ITE Steering Committee together with the Local Organizing Committee will select 5 cases: 1 for each continent, more 2 from Venice/Italy, for their representative quality and because they express a certain diversity in the cases of eviction. The cases of forced evictions will be selected from those were submitted online by July 15th 2017.

Composition and role of the ITE Session

  • Witness: a person authorized to witness a case of eviction and charged to present this to the Jury.
  • Jury :  persons appointed by the International Steering Committee, who come from the academic field, NGOs, national and international bodies and activist organisations, in agreement with the Local Organizing Committee for their independence, expertise in forced evictions, human rights, primarily housing and land rights, and ability to write credible Recommendations as part of an opinion tribunal.
  • Rapporteur :  a person designated by the Jury members within them to coordinate the writing and reading of the Recommendations.
  • Moderator :  an independent person appointed by the Organizing Committee to moderate the Tribunal Session and uphold its principles.
  • Facilitator :  a person designated by the Organizing Committee to facilitate the smooth progress of the ad hoc Tribunal on Evictions Session, synthesize the exchange and to transcribe oral testimony, and to provide written accounts for the ITE website.
  • People's Jury :  composed of representative from each organization which is the Local Organizing Committee of the Session. It interacts with the Jury before the drafting of the Recommendations. The ITE Session  Representatives / victims of evictions will be invited to testify, while those responsible for the evictions will have the opportunity to defend themselves before the Tribunal. If those responsible for the evictions will not be present, they will be tried in absentia by the Jury. During the Tribunal Session, the members of the Jury, provided with detailed cases, will listen attentively the witnesses and will ask questions for clarification which will allow them to provide recommendations at the end of the Tribunal. Each evictions case will be presented in a set amount of time by the witness without interruption. In a second phase, the panel of experts on the Jury will have a certain amount of time to question the witness and those responsible for evictions, with a view to putting together precise recommendations which have legal and social significance. In the meantime, a list will be circulated to the People's Jury so that the moderator can give the floor to any possible speakers who have any comments or relevant questions, or who wish raise a similar case as illustration. The contents will also be transcribed and published on the Tribunal website and partners’ websites in order to divulge the results of these interactive sessions. Following the Session, the Jury will meet to draft the Provisional Recommendations for each case, to be made public during the Opening of the Monument / Installation / Murals on Zero Evictions. The Final Recommendations should be ready within 30 days after the end of the Session, then sent to the economic and institutional actors responsible for the forced evictions, as well as to the civil society organisations who support the affected inhabitants. The Recommendations will be sent also to the representatives of local and/or national government, international organizations and others stakeholders that the Jury regards as relevant to the issue, such as Special Procedures of the UN CESCR, the UN Special Rapporteur for adequate housing, CESCR Committee among others. Follow-up of the ITE Session  The Zero Evictions Campaign will adopt the Recommendations and propose to all organizations at the international level to support their implementation. The ITE Steering Committee will collaborate together with the Organizing Committee and the Jury members for the periodical monitoring on the implementation of the Recommendations and through the activities that should be carried out by the organisations of the complainants on the opportunity of World Zero Evictions Days 2018.

 

Organisers of the ITE Session on Tourism

The 2017 Session of the Tribunal is a follow-up of the People' Social Forum Resistance Habitat III (Quito, 2016), an event organised within the framework of the World Zero Evictions Days by the International Alliance of Inhabitants in collaboration with the Local Organizing Committee, set up together with all the main social organizations in Venice involved in struggles for the right to housing and the depopulation of the city (Unione Inquilini, Assemblea Sociale per la Casa, Eddyburg, Venessia.com, Generazione '90, Garanzia Civica), and with the participation of the most important international networks for the right to habitat as well as Italian social inhabitants organisations.

Who supports the ITE Session on Tourism

The Session is maintained thanks to the pooling of social capital, the volunteering of members of social organizations, and the cooperation of other volunteers as the interpreters. It also counts on the collaboration of organizations devoted to the defence of human rights and on the partial support (to date) of Bread For the World – Protestant Development Service.

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