Our world is at crossroads and it cannot be claimed that we have much time to take some critical decisions. All the human family feels the necessity of cooperation more than ever. The UN, established right after the World War II, its side institutions and the UN Summits whose latest one was organized in Istanbul were all raised from the necessity or even the urgency of this cooperation.

The ecological destruction and the accompanying social destruction, recently have reached the great scales which require urgent measures at the local and global levels. However, unfortunately, the methods applied for both the diagnosis of the problems and the proposed solution techniques are deficient in pointing to an outlet. One of the most important reasons for this is the powerlessness of the dominant nation- state model and UN(without democratization) which contains deficiencies of this nation-state model in face of the urgency of the situation.

 With each passing day the crisis that humanity faces, becomes more and more complex. The solution of the crisis lies in the transcendence of the ineffective methods and those structures that insist on these methods. All humanity needs a thorough change at the local and global scales with its social, cultural, psychological, economic and political dimensions. The impediments for this change are the power, money and prestige fanatics holding the critical positions in existing nation- state model. The change can be realized only by surpassing these structures through a permanent and an effective dissident struggle.

The foremost point in this struggle to be taken into consideration by those pro-change forces ought to be the efforts of those people wishing to perpetuate their interests in the existing order by superficial reforms and co-opting the opposition. The most apparent of these efforts during Habitat Summit, which seem good-intentioned from the outside but in fact arise from the helplessness and craftiness, has been the non- functional cooperation of the official structures with the civil societal forces. The participation of NGOs in Habitat Summit should be viewed from this perspective.


"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" -- Lord Acton

However the intentions are good, there needs to be always balancing forces in places where there are power relations. The anti-democratic structure of UN and the human rights violations of Turkey, the host country for the Human Settlements Conference, still continue. Alternative Habitat Platform has been organized for exposing these two realities.


Some NGOs has claimed that it is necessary to confront the state in the political arena to force it to relinquish the unwarranted powers to the civil societal forces. By confining the state within its basic functional area, it would be possible to prevent the state to encroach upon the civil society and in turn render the it more effective and positive. We appreciate their efforts as long as they are dedicated to this cause.

The wary designation of the space, time and conditions of the struggle with such an organized and even ruthless institution like state is vitally important for the development of a healthy civil society. The determination of all these dynamics by the state means that the opposition is under control thus the aimed change will not be able to be brought about.

For us, the pacifist sit-ins organized for over fifty weeks by the families whose relatives have been missing under the custody, and attacked fiercely by the police during Habitat give the clues of an exact civil movement. These actions whose space, time and conditions have been determined by ordinary people and supported by several sectors of the society, have been successful in the sense that they have challenged the legitimacy of the repressive system. The police state which was disturbed by this success, has resorted to the use of violence.

We believe that understanding the procedure used by the (Turkish) state to co-opt the civic opposition is critical to engage in further civil society-state discussions:


  1. Primarily the legal procedures and regulations are in such a form that make it difficult for the civic initiatives to organize with free will and to stay alive.


  2. Deprived of the financial and legal support, some civic groups decide to cooperate with the state which make them controlled by the state.


  3. The state reflects those collaborating groups to the general public opinion as the sole legitimate representatives of the civil society and ignores the other radical groups which could offer alternative ideas. For this purpose we witness the collaboration of the media and the state whose existence are interlinked.


  4. Denied a voice in the media, these civic groups continue their struggle with limited opportunities; then the state together with its civil collaborators begin to project them as social misfits. If this doesn't work then the state resorts to direct police violence and repression.


  5. Those groups kept under constant police repression, begin to lose hope of the effectiveness of struggle within the legal system. When they respond violently to the state violence then the state again with the help of the media projects these groups to the public opinion as the sole representatives of the radical opposition.


  6. The other radical groups struggling with peaceful means are thus denied of the appealing to public consciousness as a result of this censorship.

Despite the limited opposition that the NGO Forum in Habitat Summit allowed, it would be over-optimistic to claim that it has provided or will provide more than just the get-together of the people from various parts of the world. We believe the necessity of such get-togethers for a permanent struggle but we also see that the UN Summits have begun to repeat themselves without producing effective results. It is an obvious reality that the official representatives participating in these summits live through an amnesia when they turn back to their countries.

It will be a waste of time to organize new summits without discussing the reasons for this ineffectiveness. It is imperative to transform the UN's existing bureaucratic, hierarchical and anti-democratic structure into a more democratic one to enable the effective implementation of decisions. So we believe that it is necessary to support the efforts for democratizing the UN system. Alternative organizations taking a stand outside the UN Summits and intending to disclose the plots behind the closed doors will contribute to this democratization process.

During such summits some good-intentioned initiatives overlook some realities due the heat and excitement of their struggle. Let us explain what we mean with an example: The significance of Habitat Summit for the Turkish state is nothing more than the foreign exchanges that the corporations will gain if the 2004 Olympic Games will be held in Istanbul. It is obvious that the decisions taken in the previous summits have not been implemented and those taken in the Habitat Summit will possibly share the same fate. Ignoring this reality and talking about the benefits of these summits despite the fact that it is much more advantageous to those who are responsible for the present and future problems we have, will mean putting one's head in the sand like an ostrich.


In the Istanbul Declaration it is mentioned that full and equal participation of men and women and effective participation of youth in political, economic and social life. Considering the fact that the official meetings have not been open to the public it is inevitable to suspect the legitimacy of the decisions.

The two main themes of the summit were "adequate shelter for all" and "sustainable human settlements in an urbanizing world". It is apparent that the principle of adequate and healthy shelter for all cannot be implemented in a context where the industrial urbanization is seen as an ideal and the decisions taken, depend on the ever-growing economic model. When this kind of an economic model is taken as a pre-condition for the implementation of the decisions in the Habitat Agenda, it appears that the decisions have nothing to do with 'sustainability'. So nothing will change.


Healthy human settlements is possible only through a holistic approach which transcends the mind-body duality and takes the human body as a part of its natural, cultural, social, economic and political environment. "The human settlements crisis has been greatly exacerbated by a persistent expansion of the rights of money and the institutions of money to the disregard or exclusion of the inalienable rights of people."(1)

Existing power relations will not permit the realization of the following goals for a more liveable world:


Stereotyped citizens whose creativity and initiative have been curbed are not close to creating an urban culture where the scopes of those cities are not appropriate for face-to-face or neighborhood and relative relationships. Even for the issues concerning the daily life, the decisions are taken at the national level. Participation in this kind of decision-making process is futile because the global financial institutions are determinant on the national central bodies. In many cases even the nation-states cannot make decisions with their own will; IMF and the World Bank make these decisions according to the needs of international capital.

We need to form an alternative way of living to surpass the values of an industrial society. To do this we want cities which are:


  • A cultural center and not a consumption and a commercial one,
  • With a scope that will allow the face-to-face relations,
  • With a production structure in harmony with nature,
  • Self-sufficient,
  • Allowing cultural exchange with the other cities,
  • Governed by decision-making bodies formed on an equal basis for the decisions concerning the other cities too.

An approach that deals with the shelter problem within the framework of 'free' market economy is nothing but to postpone the solution of the problem. It is to be understood that mass housing projects that isolate people by reducing their social and cultural relations is not a solution at all. Also housing which perpetuates class divisions and relegates the 'poor class' to 'low-income housing' will not solve crime and stop class-warfare within cities.

For the realization of creating healthy environments in the cities, it is not possible to solve the problems like air, water and land pollution, traffic, lack of clean water, solid and liquid wastes within the framework of ever-growing model which has resulted in out-of-control patterns of development making our megacities unhealthy.

Our first step is to immediately stop capitalist development, provide emergency and temporary shelter to all who need it. The next step is to enter into a transition phase by acknowledging that our existing cities are unable to create healthy human communities and ecosystems. The transition period will move us from one epoch to the next, from the age of megacities powered by fossil-fuels and nuclear energy governed by cruelty, greed and war, to the Solar Age of Arcology (ecological architecture) where the principles of love, peace, and altruism guide humanity to build new human settlements. The transitional period will liberate us from the profit motive so that people are free to follow their dreams within the context of building ecological cities.


It is imperative that the dependence of populous settlements on roads and cars be reduced. The automotive industry's gulping the fertile land and areas which should be reserved for human use be stopped.

The traffic problem cannot be solved by building more roads, bridges or parking lots; instead automobile-free settlements should be created. In the present age, the settlements are shaped according to commercial concerns instead of human needs.

The worship of automobiles in the cities result in the usurpation of the rights of pedestrians and cyclists to travel freely. As a solution to the ecological destruction that the automotive industry has caused, the environment-friendly automobiles(one of the myths of green capitalism) are no better than their environmental-hostile relatives when the amount of energy, raw material and the human power they require, is taken into consideration.


The concept of 'Sustainable Development' which was proposed by Northern Countries during Rio Summit depend on the 'Polluter Pays' principle. With some agreements on 'Climate' or 'Biological Diversity' it has been tried to form a basis of this concept. During World Climate Summit in Berlin the measure of reducing the CFC pollutants at 20% level has not received a positive response from the Northern Countries. Even the signatory countries have tried to postpone the sanctions. For the sake of protecting the trans-national biological diversity, on the one hand the bio-cultures have been plundered and on the other the pesticides and the herbicides banned in the developed countries destroy the fertility of soils in Third World Countries.The 'Polluter Pays' principle means that whoever has the money has the right of polluting. With the enforcement of this principle even in the democratic countries neither the detection of responsibles for ecocides is possible nor the standards of penalties are certain.

IMF and World Bank are responsible for the economic and ecological exploitation in the Third World Countries, esp. under the veil of 'Structural Adjustment Policies'. Likewise despite the Habitat II Summit organized for the objective of sustainable human settlements, the millions of people living in South in abject poverty won't be the concern of the rich countries who are mainly responsible for the hunger, poverty and unhealthy living conditions in the South.

The anthropocentric settlement policies that have been broken off with nature are the causes for the miserable situation the humanity face. The wounds of our earth cannot be healed through destructive developmental policies and centralized government, based on possessive and domineering attitudes but through ecological life models that are in harmony with nature.


It is obvious that all efforts put forth in these areas will fail eventually if the irrationality of the ever-growing economic model is not admitted. Economic 'development' and 'underdevelopment' are the two sides of the same coin. It is not rational to talk about the development of poor countries within a model in which the rich permanently needs the existence of poor to keep their wealth. Therefore the expression of 'developing countries' is a deception.

It should be admitted that it is a waste of time to participate in the UN Summits without questioning the capitalist model which depends on the assumption that everyone can be rich with adequate work and sees poverty as a moral weakness or an incompetence by isolating it from its political, economic and social context. The fact that our earth's resources are finite should be the fundamental principle of all economic activities. The advertisements and consumption campaigns which overlook this reality and link the well-being of human beings to consumerism should be abolished.

Taking the current population growth into consideration it will be easily seen that within this economic model which needs unemployed people for cheap labor, unemployment cannot be solved by creating more job opportunities. This economic model which causes people to migrate into cities should be abandoned.

The monopolization of agricultural land in rural areas should be prevented and land reform should be implemented. Land ownership should be excluded from the concept of private property and dealt with within the framework of common heritage of humanity for the equitable provision of needs of all.

Before proposing the welfare state model of Western societies as a solution for the 'developing countries' the fact that social security systems--one of the building blocks of this model--depend on the exploitation of poor people in 'Third World' countries and limited resources of our earth, should also be taken into consideration.

For more secure and sustainable settlements the humans must live without worrying about their future. To realize this, we need local economy models that require intermediate level technology which can be kept under human control and depends upon the principles of self-help and mutual cooperation. Especially women should be empowered to be economically secure. Therefore it is urgent to take into consideration the importance of the unpaid household women labor in economic life.

In a self-dependent model, economically independent people will be able to acquire their political freedom and then other freedoms as well to fulfill themselves by using their talents.


Any policy that fuels ethnic, religious and national differences is unacceptable. Considering the history of humanity on earth it will be apparent that since the nation-statehood dominates a very slight piece of it therefore the status quo is not historically determined. The fact that the concept of the nation-state is human-made therefore might be buried in the depths of history, should not be ignored.

The national borders are artificial, so despite the differences of language, belief systems and traditions the 5.5 billion people living on this earth is the one human family sharing the same fate. Considering the reality that power structure always turns those differences into issues of conflict to maintain their privileges and interests in the status quo, we should all struggle towards one world and one human family.


Inspecting the rights and freedoms gained throughout history from the perspective of power structure, it can be easily seen that their acceptance is mainly due to the perpetuation of the existence and legitimacy of the ruling class. In the national, regional or international documents of human rights and freedoms the guarantees are generally inadequate.

In cases of violations there is no judicial organ to bring a case before. In the documents where there is a judicial organ, the rights and freedoms have limitations, e.g. Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.

What is more important is that states either do not ratify the documents which make arrangements for well-developed freedoms or do not accept some of the objectionable parts while ratifying the rest. Those rights and freedoms which are written into the documents are not (able to be) enforced.


It ought to be clearly expressed that the concept of security that is often used in the international documents is nothing to do with more strict security measures or more security forces. The expenditures for the employment of more policemen or the modernization of security forces; the rule of the appointed over the elected; the ignored police repression by the elected; the limitations in the anti-democratic laws on the freedoms of thought and expression are unacceptable.

For the sake of security, the captivity of political prisoners and the others in the prisons cannot be argued to be a shelter model. Crime and violence can only be solved by a new concept of an 'egalitarian ecocity' designed to allow everyone access to basic human needs as well as give them opportunities to develop their personal skills, talents, and genius for the benefit of saving humanity.


Energy production and consumption do not only concern states and utilities, but also all individuals affected directly or indirectly by this process. Consuming the limited energy resources of the planet in the coal-thermal and nuclear plants by making huge investments cannot be justified.

It is irrational to victimize individuals by taking decisions from the top, through:

  • the destruction in nature due to the searching, mining and refining of fossil fuels;
  • the chemical and thermal pollution caused by cooling waters, mountains of ash and the harmful gases such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, etc. emitted when these are burnt.
  • the disasters that follow the greenhouse effect-global warming and climate change
  • the radioactive, chemical and the thermal pollution caused by nuclear power plants through uranium mining, fuel enrichment, fuel fabrication and consumption and the threat of radioactive wastes that will last hundreds of thousands of years. Decisions should be taken by all participants such as NGOs, local governments and especially the local people.

The primary element of a rational energy policy is energy efficiency. It is possible that all kinds of equipment and systems that we use today could be produced to be about 50% more efficient thus cutting down the energy need by half.

Mega projects built to energize the urban sprawl will put nature under pressure even with the most harmless of all resources. Renewable energy resources will be used in designs integrating more than one resource, in small scale and in harmony with local characteristics. Now, Demand Side Management, i.e., to have the consumer to do more work with less energy through measures and decisions taken, is at stake.

Individual energy production should be promoted to minimize the transmission losses over the long lines. Programs should be prepared for the use of efficiency and renewables.


The production, trade and transfer of weapons should be considered as a crime against humanity. Put aside the waste of limited human, natural and financial resources, the amount of scourge, suffering, inequality, poverty, social and political violence that have been afflicted upon our earth and humanity by the weapon industry is incalculable.

The wide scale defense industry intended to be established (in Turkey) through the cooperation of university, private sector and the army is trying to be legitimized by the discourse of national interests and outside enemies.

Many educational institutions, the media, toys and video games are directing the society (esp. the children) to use violence and see the violence as natural. This trend should be stopped and education in schools, in the media and games should be created to promote peace and creativity.


The war that has been going on for 12 years has caused the death of over 20.000 people, the destruction of over 2000 villages and forced evictions of millions of Kurds; besides the economic burden of this war has exacerbated the poor living conditions of millions of people in Turkey. The weapon imports especially from USA or EU countries, the expenditures in the name of developing defense industry, in short the war investments have exhausted nature and the possibilities of living a life in dignity. While more than 50% of the GNP has been spent for armament and weapon transfers, the money spent on services like health, education and housing do not exceed 1-2%. Considering these facts, there is no validity or credibility of the decisions made at the official Habitat.

We demand,

  • the end of the weapon exports of USA and EU countries to Turkey;
  • the support of the NGOs in USA and EU countries for this issue;
  • the military depots which contain explosives in the settlement regions should be removed due to the threat they pose to civil population;
  • the reduction in the money spent for armaments, for a more secure human life and nature.


The scourge of wars is apparent today. The concept of the abolition of obligatory military conscription has been instrumental in anti-war campaigns, especially with the legal recognition of it in some countries after 60's. The mass war resisters movement was first born in England during World War I with 2000 citizens openly declaring that they would not go to war. These conscientious objectors had later established the War Resisters International. In the late 30 years the anti-war campaigns have begun to bear their fruits: in many of the West European countries and USA the military service is no longer obligatory.

In Turkey, especially due to the war we are living through, the voice of the conscientious objectors have begun to be heard more and more among the anti-war and peace struggle. About 20 people have declared to the public that they would not join the army.

Whatever its reason and whatever army it is, we object to the compulsory military service and demand the legal recognition of conscientious objection as a human right in all countries.


Present social system has been shaped at the disadvantage of women and children especially. Whatever its source, the traditions and the norms that foster the submission of women to men and subject the children to the indoctrination of the elderly are unacceptable. Indoctrinating children to want the rewards of every day life in capitalist cities such as home ownership and cars should be seen as part of the pattern of destruction.

Women need equal access to the means of power in society so that there will be a 'balance of power'. To accomplish this means that domestic work, the traditional unpaid work of women, must be either organized in a collective manner or automated in order to allow women the time and energy to pursue education and work which is socially and creatively necessary for the survival of the human species. The subjection of women starts at home and will only be solved by the liberation of women from domestic servitude within the home. In order to do this, we must envision a social architecture within the setting of an ecocity which makes quality upbringing of children its first priority.

Children need to be given the freedom to follow their natural inclinations and not have to pursue education for the purpose of 'making a living'. All arrangements that prevent the equal and effective participation of women in social, economic and political life and the educational system that kills the creativity of children should be abolished.


Educational institutions are the places that reproduce the still existing problems of social inequality, sexism, racism, nationalism, militarism, violence and the consumerism in our societies. The educational institutions and its tools cannot be manipulated to raise qualified work power for the market or to impose a certain ideology and a belief system.

The educational system should be restructured with non-commercial considerations where cooperation rather than competition among students is fostered; a place where the participation of people from every age with their free will and the equality of opportunity is secured.


The universities are currently in a situation where the social inequality is reproduced and mediocrity is promoted while the radical theory and creativity is excluded. The submission of university students and teachers to this reality is ethically unacceptable. The essential mission of university should be the free provision of the needed knowledge for the just and equitable solution of the present social problems.

Knowledge is a social rather than an individual product. The university system is molded according to the needs of the military and the private sector; the universities are transforming into commercial centers for teaching how to earn more money and deceive people; the knowledge is capitalized and taken out of the reach of those societal sectors that need it most.

The autonomy of the universities from the state and the private sector should be supported; the universities should no longer be the institutions that distribute the passports for a more economically privileged life; free and equal attendance of people to the universities regardless of age or other differences should be secured.The decision- making mechanism in the universities should be under the common and equal control of students, teachers and workers.


The idea in the Official Declaration that rural-to-urban migration can be minimized by extending infrastructure, public service and employment opportunities to rural areas does not sound reasonable and convincing in a model where urbanization is encouraged. Instead it would be wiser to restitute communal rights over the local resources.The right of economic self-determination should not be usurped either by free enterprise or the nation-state which sees the lands and its resources as its own property.

Exposing local and indigenous people to unhealthy living conditions or dislocating them due to the (private sector or state origin) developmental projects such as dams, power plants, bridges and industrial plants (which are all required for the functioning of ever- growing economic model) is inadmissible.


In this context all peoples and communities have the right of determining their own economic priorities and allocating local resources for their own needs. This right should be kept within the limits set by the duty for stewarding and equitably sharing the planetary life giving resources.

"Current trade agreements give the economic rights of global corporations precedence over the rights to livelihood and self- determination of living people and communities."(2) The unruly transactions of MNCs in poor countries which impose Western consumption patterns on the local people should be forthwith stopped.

"It should be recognized that the earth is the common heritage of all and that all people have natural and equal rights to the land of the planet; WE THEREFORE DECLARE THAT THE EARTH IS THE BIRTHRIGHT OF ALL PEOPLE."(3)


"The existing system has opened the most dangerous chasm in human history between an affluent, overconsuming minority and an impoverished majority of humankind in the South and also, increasingly, in the North. No nation so dramatically divided has ever remained stable; no frontier or force can withstand the despair and resentment that a failed system is now actively generating."(4)

The dominant 'free' market economy is a myth and the state planned economy cannot give an adequate answer to the current crisis. These economy policies are depleting the natural resources of our earth rapidly to the advantage of a minority and the disadvantage of the rest and thus ignoring the rights of other living things, the disadvantaged and the future generations.

Despite all these the reasons for the perpetuation of these policies are, the desire of the privileged to perpetuate their interests, the deprivation of the masses of the freedom required to get out of the system thus their dependency to the status quo and the inefficiency of those people who struggle for change.

* Edited by the groups that have come together under the name of Alternative Habitat Platform and held Alternative Habitat activities during Habitat Summit. Although it seems that some of the issues in the declaration are specific to Turkey, the host country to Habitat II Summit, we believe that in different appearances and at different levels these issues also concern other "developing" and the "developed" countries.


(1),(2) Money vs. Life: Conflicting Rights, David C. Korten
(3) Alanna Hartzok, Financing Planet Management
(4) The Copenhagen Alternative Declaration, People-Centered Development Forum