246 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    246 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Increasingly, urban actors invoke human rights to address inequalities, combat privatisation, and underline common aspirations, or to protect vested (private) interests. The potential and the pitfalls of these processes are conditioned by the urban, and deeply political. These urban politics of human rights are at the heart of this book.

    An international line-up of contributors with long-term engagement in this field shed light on these politics in cities on four continents and eight cities, presenting a wealth of empirical detail and disciplinary theoreticalisation perspectives. They analyse the ‘city society’, the urban actors involved, and the mechanisms of human rights mobilisation. In doing so, they show the commonalities in rights engagement in today’s globalised and often deeply unequal cities characterised by urban law, private capital but also communities that rally around concepts as the ‘right to the city’. Most importantly, the chapters highlight the conditions under which this mobilisation truly contributes to social justice, be it concerning the simple right to presence, cultural rights, accessible housing or – in times of COVID – health care.

    Urban Politics of Human Rights provides indispensable reading for anyone with a practical or theoretical interest in the complex, deeply political, and at times also truly promising interrelationship between human rights and the urban.

    Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license.

    1. Introduction: Urban Politics of Human Rights

    B.Oomen, E. Durmus, S. Miellet, J.E. Nijman, L. Roodenburg

    Part 1: Exploring the urban

    2. Reconsidering extraterritorial human rights obligations of cities and local governments: Reassessing apartheid divestment ordinances in the United States, 1975-1994

    A. Novak

    3. Human rights within the context of urbanization: focusing on the Kırşehir province and the cultural rights of the Abdals

    A. E. Gürlek

    4. A Tale of Two Cities: Comparison of Istanbul and San Francisco through the Right to Housing

    A. Can

    Part 2: Urbanising human rights

    5. Urban politics and the human rights city: The case of Bologna

    T. Sabchev

    6. Beyond Minimum Protection: The Politics of Housing Rights in the City

    P. Fernandez-Wulff

    Part 3: City society

    7. How Urban Law Deflects Rights Claims: A Case Study of the Eviction of a Roma Squatter Settlement in Malmö, Sweden

    K. Åberg, F. Batzler, M. Persdotter

    8. Decolonising Human Rights: The Rise of Nairobi’s Social Justice Centres

    P. Jones & G. Gachihi

    Part 4: Mechanisms of mobilisation

    9. Resisting Marginalisation in the World Class City: Eking out a Legal Right to Public Presence in the City of Cape Town

    M. Pieterse

    10. Human Rights Mobilisation in São Paulo’s Policy Response to COVID-19

    P. Vormittag


    Janne E. Nijman is a Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, and Professor of History and Theory of International law at the University of Amsterdam. She is the former chairperson of the board and academic director of the Asser Institute in The Hague. Here she headed the research project, ‘The Global City: Challenges, Trust and the Role of (International) Law’, which consisted of four individual PhD research projects (Global Cities). Together with Helmut Aust, she chairs the ILA Study Group on ‘The Role of Cities in International law’. Aust and Nijman are the editors of the Elgar Research Handbook of International Law and Cities (2021). Nijman is the author of numerous publications including ‘Renaissance of the City as Global Actor. The role of foreign policy and international law practices in the construction of cities as global actors’, in The Transformation of Foreign Policy: Drawing and Managing Boundaries, ed. by Andreas Fahrmeir, Gunther Hellmann and Miloš Vec (2016) pp. 209–241.

    Barbara Oomen holds a chair in the Sociology of Human Rights at Utrecht University and was the project leader of Cities of Refuge, a five-year project that investigates the role of human rights in how local authorities throughout Europe welcome and integrate refugees. Professor Oomen has published extensively on human rights cities, including an entry in the Sage Handbook of Human Rights (2014) and articles in journals such as Human Rights and International Legal Discourse. She also co-edited Global Urban Justice: The Rise of Human Rights Cities (2016). Recent publications concern themes such as the role of transnational networks and constitutional dispensations in strengthening refugee reception by local authorities. Barbara Oomen sits on the Advisory Council of International Affairs and is a board member of the Human Rights Cities Network. After having taught at University College Roosevelt for 15 years, she is now president of the HZ University of Applied Sciences.

    Elif Durmuş is a postdoctoral researcher at Antwerp University. Her current work is on the conceptualisation of new duty bearers in human rights, in a larger Flemish inter-University (iBOF) project titled ‘Future-Proofing Human Rights: Developing Thicker Forms of Accountability’. Previously, she has been a PhD Researcher at Utrecht University, in the Project Cities of Refuge, together with fellow editors Barbara Oomen and Sara Miellet. She holds an LLB from Ankara University and an Advanced LLM (cum laude) from Leiden University in Public International Law. Her doctoral research explored local governments’ and transnational city networks’ engagement with international law, human rights and migration, with a particular focus on how practices turn to norms, and norms to law locally, trans-locally and internationally. She is a Founding Editor of Human Rights Here, the blog of the Netherlands Network of Human Rights Research. Sara Miellet postdoctoral researcher at Utrecht University in the ‘Welcoming Spaces’ project. Previously she completed a PhD in the ‘Cities of Refuge Project’ at Utrecht University with co-editors Barbara Oomen and Elif Durmuş. Her researcher examines the interplay between the local politics of forced migration and the local politics of human rights in urban and rural localities. She is the co-editor of Theorizing Local Migration Law and Governance together with Dr. Moritz Baumgärtel and has published articles in The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law (2019), The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (2021), The Journal of Refugee Studies (2021) and Territory Politics and Governance.

    Lisa Roodenburg completed a PhD in the ‘The Global City: Trust, Challenges, and the Role of Law’ project at the T.M.C. Asser Institute. Her research explores the role of human rights in urban debates on migration, with a focus on empirical methods. She has published on cities and human rights in the Special Issue ‘Cities and the contestation of human rights between the global and the local’ of The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law (2019) and in the edited volume International Law’s Collected Stories (2020).

    "With contributions from a stellar roster of established and emerging human rights scholars, this book puts urban communities and governance at its center. The results are riveting, and illuminating for both theory and practice. From Istanbul to Sao Paolo, from San Francisco to Nairobi, the topics covered are broad. At the same time, there is exceptional depth to the analyses, in large part because the chapters are positioned in dialogue around key issues of spatial inequalities, norm diffusion, mobilisation, housing, urban politics, and more. This remarkable volume expands our understanding of the human rights-urban nexus in ways that will reverberate far beyond its pages."

    Martha F. Davis, University Distinguished Professor of Law, Northeastern University