A city which stands up for human rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns seventy in December and Barcelona wishes to reaffirm its position at the forefront in the defence of people’s rights. The city is holding the international conference ‘Cities for Rights’, a meeting to debate global challenges and address a historical and political point in time when rights are being curbed all around the world.

11/11/2018 11:32 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

Cities For Rights’ is being held on 10 and 11 December and examines the roles of cities in the struggle to protect and guarantee human rights from different points of view, with the feminist perspective of central importance. The main topic will be the violation of the rights of migrants and refugees due to migration and border policies which are becoming more and more restrictive and criminalising given the growth in far-right governments.

Participants include representatives from sanctuary cities in the US which have made a stand against Trump’s xenophobic and racist policies, as well as movements like United We Dream, which brings together thousands of dreamers who reached the USA as minors and now face the threat of deportation because of Trump. Another participant is the ACLU, an organisation of lawyers who overturned Trump’s anti-refugee veto.

Another of the topics to be focused on will be the right to housing, which has become one of the most broadly violated basic rights in the majority of large cities. The UN Special Rapporteur for Housing, Leilani Farha, is one of the speakers, along with representatives from cities backing bold policies to protect the rights of tenants against the global dynamics of speculative investment funds.

The conference also features speakers of international prestige, such as the writer and philosopher Santiago Alba Rico, and the philosopher and writer Djamila Ribeiro.

Besides the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this year also marks twenty years since the ‘Cities for Human Rights’ conference in 1998, which brought together over seventy European cities to give municipal authorities a voice as the administration closest to people when it comes to defending, protecting and guaranteeing people’s rights.

Umbral project

Migration is a central trait in modern societies. Armed conflicts, poverty and the lack of freedom in some countries force the population to flee in search of a dignified future. As a result, these people often lose their lives during the journey or end up confined in refugee camps.

As part of the ‘Cities for Rights’ conference the city will be presenting the Umbral project, an artistic initiative bringing together works by ten international artists and three organisations to reflect on and understand the inequalities experienced by millions of people force to migrate.

The works of art in question are by Yto Barrada and Leila Alaoui, Banu Cenetoglu, Ramón Esono, Daniel García Andújar, Eulàlia Grau, Rogelio López Cuenca and Elo Vega, Teresa Margolles, Dan Perjovschi, Estefanía Peñafiel and Hiwa K. There will also be works from the projects by Frontera Sud, Sueños Refugiados and Un regal per a Kushbu.

The projects will go on display on 10 December and remain in place until 6 February at 13 metro stations around Barcelona’s ten districts. At the same time, informative activities are being organised to raise awareness about the situation of migrants and refugees.

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