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URBAN QUESTIONS
AITEC Declaration (Mexico 1994)

on land occupation and regularization with regard to rights to housing and to the city in the developing countries

AITEC was actively involved in the preparation and organization of the international seminar held in Mexico City from 23-26 February 1993, entitled "Managing the access of the poor to urban land : new approaches for regularization policies in the developing countries". This seminar brought together 80 professionals from 19 countries, working in research institutions, NGOs, national and international organizations on urban housing issues, land management and regularization programmes. 

A summary of the conclusions and recommendations of the seminar was disseminated in April 1993. The present declaration by AITEC puts forward for more general discussion ideas on some of the fundamental questions on rights to land, housing and urban services which were discussed during the seminar 
 

1. The international seminar in Mexico City adopted the following definition : "human settlement regularization is giving a specific content to the right to adequate housing, through a process that involves improving methods for recognizing occupancy (i.e. land occupancy which falls outside legally organized procedures) and legitimate access to credit, services and opportunities". 

The seminar stressed that land regularization policies should be considered as forming part of the methods and techniques used for settlement improvement and land and housing development. It also stressed that the diversity of urban community initiatives and practices represent the grass roots of innovative land regularization programmes. 

These points of view and definition open up new perspectives for those working in the field of housing for the poor.
 

2. Regularization programmes are not simply a technical means to be employed in response to a problem that has emerged from nowhere. The reason for their existence is that the urban poor, those who are excluded, have no other housing alternative than creating so called "irregular settlements". Developing regularization programmes does not provide the answer to the core question: why is a significant part of the urban population - in some cases the majority - compelled to be in an illegal situation regarding land and housing ? 
 

3. Negotiations between the inhabitants, on the one hand, and the economic and political decision-makers on the other represent the decisive step in any regularization process. This method of resolving conflicts deserves particular attention, since negotiation implies at least a recognition of the status of the populations concerned and sometimes acceptance of their autonomy. 
 

4. Regularization is a form of land production. It does not concern only security of tenure but also housing improvement, infrastructure