Architecture and Cultural Rights
November 20, 2021
Francis Kéré and the Pritzker Prize
April 4, 2022

We are all humans. We are all born free and equal.

Human Rights Day is 10DEC, the day in 1948 when the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). There is much we can do to connect the work of equity and justice to the UDHR.

Within the architectural profession I submit we have duties to protect and promote human rights in the built environment. This includes participatory rights, cultural rights, rights of access, housing rights, environmental rights and the rights of construction workers and their families.

2021 Theme: EQUALITY – Reducing inequalities, advancing human rights.

As the link points out:

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of human rights. Equality is aligned with the 2030 Agenda and with the UN approach set out in the document Shared Framework on Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development. This includes addressing and finding solutions for deep-rooted forms of discrimination that have affected the most vulnerable people in societies, including women and girls, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, LGBTI people, migrants and people with disabilities, among others. Equality, inclusion and non-discrimination, in other words – a human rights-based approach to development – is the best way to reduce inequalities and resume our path towards realising the 2030 Agenda.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development intersects in a number of areas with the field of architecture and planning and the profession needs to review it for further areas where our professional responsibilities engage with the 2030 Agenda.  There are 17 goals (see here) and I believe architecture and planning are connected to all of them, some more directly than others.Leaving No One Behind: Equality and Non-Discrimination at the Heart of Sustainable Development.  The United Nations System Shared Framework for Action connects sustainability to equity.  This is an essential connection.

Currently the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) has formed an advisory committee on Equity and Justice.  Clearly, among the issues this committee must consider is that connection between equity, justice and sustainability.

all the best to all of you for Human Rights Day 2021,

Graeme Bristol, Centre for Architecture and Human Rights

Frame from
Graeme Bristol
Graeme Bristol
Graeme Bristol is the ED/founder of the Centre for Architecture and Human Rights. He holds professional and research degrees in architecture from UBC and an LLM in human rights law from Queen’s University Belfast. He worked as an architect in Vancouver until 1994. Between 1994 and 1997 he was a supervising architect with the national Department of Works in Papua New Guinea where he was also a technical advisor to the PNG government at the Habitat II conference in Istanbul, and the Registrar of the PNG Board of Architects. He taught architecture at KMUTT in Bangkok where he worked with students mainly in slum communities and in construction camps with migrant workers and their families. He also worked with the UN during the tsunami recovery in Thailand. He has been writing and speaking on architecture and human rights for many years.

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