Theme for Uppsala: Human Rights – a question of where you live?

Description of Programme The Swedish Forum for Human Rights 2021

Human Rights

How is the ability to enjoy human rights related to where one lives? Human rights are universal, and your place of birth and where you live should not be a determinant for whether your human rights are fulfilled. Yet, today there are big discrepancies between whether human rights are respected, protected and fulfilled depending on where in the world, in the country or in the city that a person lives. What determines this and how do we build a society where everyone is able to enjoy their human rights?

The right to housing means more than only a roof over your head. It is a basic human right, both stated in international conventions and in the Swedish constitution. How is the right to housing observed today? What poses challenges locally in Uppsala, in Sweden in general, and out in the world? What political and practical solutions are needed for everyone to be able to enjoy their right to housing? What is the responsibility of the state, and the international society? What requirements can be put on businesses? Housing is a right that is rarely mentioned today in relation to the political discourse. Commonly, buildings are built and renovated for other groups than those who lack housing or who have a vulnerable position in the housing market. How can today’s housing politics be reformed so that rights are respected? Can a more pronounced social dimension in the political discourse be sufficient, or is there a need for social housing and other special solutions to guarantee everyone’s right to housing? To what degree does discrimination against a person affect their living condition? How can we organise ourselves on the grassroots level to improve our and others situation?

Your housing and your home address should not affect your ability to enjoy other rights. Still, your address can all too often decide on your ability to enjoy your rights to work, education, health and engagement in democracy and public life. The geographical place where you live your life can also affect your opportunities to express your identity, exercise your religion, take part in culture, in nature, and your ability to feel safe when you move in streets.

Peoples living situation can also be negatively impacted upon because of discrimination. The Discrimination Act protects against discrimination on the housing market which concerns ethnicity, disability, gender identity and expression, religion and other believes, sexual identity, and age. However, the fact that you could be discriminated against, for example in the labour market because of where you live, is not cemented in the Act. How is your right to not be discriminated against dependent on where you live? What difference is made in where someone is discriminated?

What significance does power and money make for your ability to enjoy your rights? In Uppsala, in Sweden and in the world there are visible trends towards decreasing economic and political equity and growing housing segregation. Life is, to sum up, different for a person in an urban city centre, a suburban area or a township, in a residential area, or in the rural area. What difference is acceptable, what is not? Do the economic and political priorities respond to the responsibilities that a state has to guarantee the same rights for everyone?

It is not only the individual person whose rights are infringed upon who is affected by increasing segregation and growing housing inequality. Both in Sweden and globally worrying tendencies of less trust in society, increasing polarity and segregation, and decreasing belief in democracy are visible. How are we affected as a society by rural and suburban areas being branded as issues by politicians and the media? What ways are there forth from stigmatisation and polarisation? How do we build a society that is united, respected, and is grounded in everyone’s human rights, regardless of where one lives?

To the person who because of conflict or climate changes has lost their home all of these questions are at a critical juncture. Who is accountable for those whose land is rendered nonexistent because of rising sea levels and is made unliveable because of desert spreading? How can the person who is forced to flee their home and in many cases, also their country because of persecution, occupation, war, or land grabbing, claim their rights – and from who? What duties does rich states have towards the populations of poorer states?

The Swedish Forum for Human Rights 2021 in Uppsala grounds itself in the question of whether human rights are dependent on where one lives. In this this programme we now invite to discussions on everything from racism, to segregation, gentrification, actual and false insecurity, discrimination, democracy, convention on children’s rights as law, urban planning and rural development, EBO-law, refugee camps, safe houses, urbanisation, local independence, climate change, renovictions, land rights, class, statelessness, housing activism, loneliness, and abortion travels. We encourage showcases that clearly tie to human rights and the principals of non-discrimination. We would like to see both situation and impact assessments, but also more predictions and concrete suggestions about how we create a society where rights are not a question of where you live.

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