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Pulse - Human Rights

Grigny calls on local governments to commit for the right to peace and the right to the city

Grigny (28,424) | Right to Peace - Metropolization

Philippe Rio is the mayor of Grigny: a small town on the outskirts of Paris marked by strong inequalities. Philippe Rio's commitment to defend as Mayor social and spatial justice for city dwellers of peripheral cities has led him to become an active advocate of the right to the city in parallel to a vocal, global committment for the right to peace.

« Citizens in our cities are ready to engage in favor of peace. People want peace, but the big leaders of this world do not speak of peace: They speak of war! We must, according to the relation of proximity that we have to our citizens, be at the forefront of new alliances that reaffirm the will of our citizens to live in a peaceful world. There is a pacifist emergency, and local governments can be at the front of this appeal »

Philippe Rio, Mayor of Grigny

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A look at Vienna’s local human rights system

Vienna (1,8 million) | Human Rights Cities - Nondiscrimination

Five years after launching its process aimed at assuming a more active role in human rights policies as municipal administration, Vienna has become an inspiring example of “Human Rights City” in Europe and beyond, with consolidated human rights policies, institutions and laws.

« How can a city population feel completely secure? Defining security should take into account its broad nature in the city – if a child is able to come back home from school by himself, can grow up free from fear and have access to education and later on to labor market. In the end, this is also about having trust in local authorities: If I am unemployed, is there any system for supporting? If I can’t afford my flat temporary, can I receive help? Trust is the most important thing when living in a city »

Shams Asadi, Human Rights Commissioner of Vienna

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Seoul's quest to bring human rights in all parts of citizens' lives: Building a Human Rights City

Seoul (9,8 million) | Human Rights Cities - Nondiscrimination

Almost seven years after the creation of its Human Rights Department, Seoul has consolidated a pioneer municipal human rights system. At present, the city vows to tackle more firmly human rights issues such as discrimination, sexual harassment or forced evictions.

« Seoul has recently established a second human rights policy master plan focused on expanding human rights in every part of citizens' lives: creating human-friendly spaces, spreading human rights culture and raising awareness on the need to respect differences »

Seoul's Human Rights Department

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Goicoechea promotes human development through an approach based on citizen participation and human rights

Goicoechea (133,557) | Social Inclusion - Participatory Democracy

Initiatives led by Goicoechea's Human Development Department range from awareness-raising campaigns on non-discrimination, human rights trainings for local officials and participatory budgets; all set in a diverse and peripheral municipality of Costa Rica’s capital city.

« Among the specific initiatives carried out by the Department, the Tables for Dialogue stand out as a pioneer process on citizen participation. The tables aim at promoting people and community self-organization, and to co-create public policies through community workshops »

Goicoechea's Human Development Department

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Madrid program on human rights defenders: Spain's capital city vows to protect those who protect others' rights

Madrid (3,1 million) | Human Rights - Peace

Through its new program on human rights defenders, Madrid aims at offering protection and build the capacities of human rights defenders in conflict zones, but also to create a safe environment in their countries of origin through city diplomacy, and to improve Madrilenians awareness.

« We, as local authorities, can intervene to protect human rights and the right to refugee by providing dignified welcome conditions to refugees, strengthening decentralized cooperation programs and supporting human rights defenders task - as "Madrid Protege" project intends to do. Because there are no rights without human rights defenders »

Mauricio Valiente, Deputy Mayor of Madrid

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Lisbon aims at developing a local human rights culture through training and awareness-raising

Lisbon (506.892) | Human Rights – Diversity and Nondiscrimination

SOMOS is a local programme of Education for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights launched by Lisbon in 2015. Through different awareness-raising and capacity-building initiatives, it aims at developing a local culture of human rights and democratic citizenship.

[ This initiative is featured in the Inclusive Cities Observatory as an in-depth study case: You can have a look at it here ] 

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Grenoble promotes the notion of inclusive citizenship through participation and human rights education

Grenoble (162,780) | Participatory Democracy - Diversity

Due to its economic dynamism, Grenoble received a high number of migrants throughout the last century. At present, the city carries out several policies to help build and inclusive notion of citizenship: participation, human rights education and civil society empowerment.

« The Council of Foreign Residents relies on the notion of residence. Indeed, all residents who live in Grenoble after several years pay their taxes and often participate in the social life of their neighborhood. Our goal in promoting and supporting the Council is to demonstrate that foreign residents’ participation in municipal life can enrich local democracy and be a catalyst of social cohesion »

Bernard Macret, Deputy Mayor of Grenoble

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In Bogotá, social control promotes transparency and citizen participation in the government of the city

Bogotá (8 million) | Open Government - Participatory Democracy

Halfway monitoring and transparency, Bogotá’s Veeduría Distrital is devoted to the municipality's preventive control. More specifically, the Veeduría is in charge of promoting “social control” ; a local mechanism for monitoring the municipal administration in a democratic way.

« In order to carry out our duty to detect corruption risks, the Veeduría follows two course of action that we advance in a complementary way. The first one is to work with local entities and the second one is to work with directly citizens. It is in this framework where social control emerges as a mechanisms for monitoring and citizen participation where citizens ask and public administrations are turned accountable »

Jaime Torres-Melo, Veedor Distrital of Bogotá

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Toronto sets a strategy to reduce poverty with the participation of the most marginalized

Toronto (2,7 million) | Social Inclusion - Community empowerement 

The poverty reduction strategy carried out by Toronto aims at ensuring that city provides opportunities for all by 2035. Toronto's Strategy sets out three, overarching objectives - effects, trajectories and causes of poverty - and tackles working areas such as housing stability or quality jobs.

« We wanted our Strategy to be simple and to engage in dialogue with people who live in poverty. So I put it like my fingers: first of all, we need access to affordable housing. Also to have accessible transportation. And we need to have services that serve the needs of people. We also have to think about food security. And finally, all these areas leads us to employment: Because people take back their lives when they are employed. But in some cases people will never be employed. In which case, they need to have a stable income »

Pam McConnell, Toronto's Councillor for Social Equity 

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Madrid has developed an open software that allows cities to promote direct democracy in local policy-making

Madrid (3,1 million) | Direct Democracy - Human Rights

Decide Madrid is a digital platform promoted by Madrid municipality in order to provide citizens with mechanisms of direct democracy. Decide Madrid has already engaged thousands of citizens in projects ranging from urban planning to participatory budgeting or human rights.

« It is going to be all city dwellers who decide how cities work. This is a global trend. People takes the streets to claim that they have to be the ones who decide. It is our task to provide an answer to this will (although we can’t do it by ourselves). Our approach is to design tools - in this case, software - so that other cities can advance direct democracy »

Miguel Arana, Director of Participation of Madrid

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Barcelona promotes a municipal plan to combat Islamophobia and discrimination at the local level

Barcelona (1,6 million) | Human Rights – Diversity and Nondiscrimination

Barcelona launched in early 2017 a “Municipal Measure to combat Islamophobia”: An action plan developed in consultation with human rights defenders and Barcelona’s Muslim community with a view to both raise awareness, empower and guarantee reparations for victims.

« We understand discrimination, whatever the reason (gender, sexual orientation, race, social class ...), as one of the biggest threats to local social cohesion and inclusion. Indeed, the city of Barcelona does not live outside our time's rising international conjuncture, in which a part of our citizenship has become suspicious for the simple fact of professing a certain religion or having a specific cultural background »

Jaume Asens, Deputy Mayor of Barcelona