CELL Working Group Member Prof. Fons Coomans, on 21-22 June 2017, attended a meeting of UNESCO Chairs at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The meeting brought together Chair holders who work on human rights, migration and urban inclusion. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the role of cities and local governments in fostering the urban inclusion of migrants by using a human rights-based approach.
This issue relates to the enjoyment of human rights, such as the right to education, work, housing and cultural rights for asylum-seekers, refugees and undocumented migrants. It can be related to recent international agendas, such as the Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 11: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable as well as Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all), and the New Urban Agenda adopted by the UN-Habitat III conference in October 2016.
Other ongoing initiatives in this respect include the International Coalition of Inclusive and Sustainable Cities (ICCAR). ICCAR is a global platform for cities and municipalities. It assists local authorities in combating discrimination and stereotyping in their capacity as policy makers and service providers by promoting urban inclusion through the protection of human rights and cultural diversity of all local residents.
It was discussed which role UNESCO Chairs can play in teaching and research on human rights and inclusion. One concrete suggestion in this respect is training of local decision-makers and civil servants about what a human rights-based approach would mean when applied in practice to migration issues at the local level.