PARTICIPATION AND PLANNING by Graeme Bristol, MAIBC, MRAIC Centre for Architecture & Human Rights 231/2 South Sathorn Road, Yannawa, Sathorn, Bangkok 10120 THAILAND mobile phone (Bangkok): 089-1617283 email@example.com www.architecture-humanrights.org
In human rights, the term ‘participation’ is most often associated with political participation. This is the case in Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 21 refers to the right ‘to take part’ in government either directly or through ‘freely chosen representatives’. While direct participation is an ambiguous prospect, choosing representatives is much more clearly defined as elections in 21.3. The process of electing a government is far more constricted than the broader concept of governance1. As important as voting rights are, in the day-to-day lives of citizens there are other participatory rights that should receive greater attention. This is certainly true in an increasingly urbanized world. Rapid urbanization and the dramatic increase in slums and illegal settlements creates a fundamental problem for governance – one that won’t be solved by elections, particularly given the fact that most illegal settlers in these cities would have no right to vote in any case. It is in the city, then, where we will better define the meaning and value of participation in governance. In so doing, it is important to outline the context set by international documents on human rights. International Documents In addition to the UDHR, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the Declaration on the Right to Development (DRD), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) all raise issues relating to participation. ICCPR (1966) – As with Article 21 of the UDHR, this international covenant recognizes in Article 25 the right to participate in public affairs. In Paragraph 3 this participation is focused on elections. In addition, though, like the ICESCR below, the right of self-
See, for example, “Global Campaign on Urban Governance Concept Paper”, United Nations Human Settlements Programme, March 2002, p 12-13. Available at: http://www.unhabitat.org/pmss/getPage.asp?page=bookView&book=1537 1
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determination is introduced here in Article 1. It is also in Article 1 of the UN Charter, as the second of the four purposes of the UN. Historically, the Charter’s interest was largely focused on the principle of national self-determination2 rather than at the level of the individual or the community. ICESCR (1966) – Article 1 on self-determination is identical to Article 1 of the ICCPR. The first paragraph refers to the right to freely determine their ‘political status’ as well as their ‘economic, social and cultural development.’ The second “affirms a particular aspect of the economic content of the right of self-determination”3 which relates to the full realization of the right to development4 through the right of peoples to their natural wealth and resources. The third paragraph places an obligation on States to recognize this right. DRD (1986) – Article 1 concerns both the right of participation in economic, social, cultural and political development (Paragraph 1) and of self-determination (Para. 2). Article 8.2 obliges the State to “encourage popular participation in all spheres” of development. In the DRD, participation has extended beyond the political to include the economic, social and cultural aspects of life. CRC (1989) – The word ‘participation’ is used only in the context of the right of the disabled child to participate actively in the community (Article 23.1). However, there are other Articles in which participation is implied. This includes Article 12.2, ‘the opportunity to be heard’; 13.1, ‘freedom to seek, receive and impart information’; and 15.1, ‘freedom of association’. It is also important to note, though Article 23.1 only refers to children with disabilities, the obligation of the State to ‘promote self-reliance’. In these documents there are a number of points that expand the meaning of participation beyond elections. While there is a tested methodology for participation in elections5, determining the destiny of one’s community is a much more difficult prospect. Tehranian points out: “. . . the promise of national self-determination in Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points injected ideological fuel into the national liberation movements of the colonial world.” (Tehranian, 2002:41) In the post-WWII political environment these issues of independence arose once again, most visibly in Palestine. With the Charter, it was a principle rather than a right. As Hannum (2006:243) states: “. . . one of the great contributions of the United Nations to international law was in promoting the shift” of self-determination from a principle (in the Charter) to a right(in the Covenants). 3 General Comment No. 12: The right to self-determination of peoples (Art. 1) : . 13/03/84. OHCHR (http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/f3c99406d528f37fc12563ed004960b4?Opendocument) 2
See Salomon & Sengupta (2003:35)
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, for example, sets such standards. See http://www.osce.org/odihr-elections/documents.html?lsi=true&limit=10&grp=239 5
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The rules are few and the variables much more unruly, however, the implementation of the right is critical, particularly to the thousands of urban communities facing eviction in cities around the world. Their poverty, their tenure and legal status render them invisible to authorities6. It is impossible to participate in directing the future of your community when you are not seen. Having some level of control over the future of one’s community requires some level of self-determination. In turn, that requires active participation in decisionmaking processes (very few of which involve elections). Participation There has been a significant development in the understanding and acceptance of participation in urban governance since the drafting of the Universal Declaration. In the period following WWII, many cities in the West were undergoing what was termed ‘urban renewal’ or ‘urban regeneration’. In the UK, for example, the Town and Country Planning Act of 1944 created powers for national authorities to re-plan and rebuilt areas damaged by war as well as areas considered to be badly laid out or ‘obsolete’7 The Housing Act 1949 allowed authorities to acquire property that had been classified as a ‘slum’ by the Public Health Inspectors (Blackhall, 2005:8). In the US similar legislation was passed at the national level as well as the municipal level. The “Blighted Areas Redevelopment Act” of 1947 in Chicago was a typical example in which, along with health factors8, a ‘slum or blighted area’ was defined as ‘deleterious land use’, ‘obsolescence’ and ‘faulty arrangement or design’. With more and more communities being torn apart throughout the 1950s, questions were raised about the meaning of such terms as faulty design or blighted area. Who was making such judgements? It certainly wasn’t happening at the community level itself. In 1961 Jane Jacobs published her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities in which these questions were vigorously presented. With a background as a journalist, her strength was in her observations of people living in and using city spaces. She railed against the rationalism of modernist planning and their narrow definitions of what was ‘obsolete’ or ‘badly designed’. Where the professional planners saw blight and slums, she Indeed, it is typical in major events – G7 or WTO meetings, for example – for city and national authorities to evict the poor from the city, either temporarily or permanently. For the APEC meeting of October 2003 in Bangkok, the Governor had a huge banner 500m long by 15m high unfurled along the shoreline of the Chao Phraya river in order to hide a slum community he considered to be too unsightly to be seen by the international delegates at the conference hall on the other side of the river . (see “Gigantic banner unfurled to hide slum”, The Nation, 17 OCT 03 7 See http://www.bopcris.ac.uk/bopall/ref9579.html and Blackhall (2005:8) 8 See http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=031500050K3 (315 ILCS 5/3) (from Ch. 67 1/2, par. 65) Section 3(j) 6
21 MAY 07 PARTICIPATION AND PLANNING saw vibrant communities. Her descriptions of these communities changed the way people thought about planning. Her timing for the book was fortunate as well since it was being read by many activists in these communities – activists like those in the Free Speech Movement9, the civil rights movement and the growing anti-war movement. In 1969 a number of these ideas were presented concisely and clearly in a short article by Sherry Arnstein called ‘A Ladder of Citizen Participation’. In it was a diagram that clearly indicated to many of these community activists that there was no meaningful participation in the determination of
their own futures. There was little here but tokenism and they had a right to much more than that. It was ‘Citizen Power’ that they were seeking. They needed that power to keep their communities from being destroyed by the rationalist urban renewal schemes of the modernist urban planners and by the inner city expressways of the equally rationalist transportation engineers. If this destruction was to stop, they had to wrest control of the city from the hands of the ‘democratically elected’ politicians and bring it back under local control of the people who were defining ‘beauty’ and ‘blight’ in quite different ways from the professionals. Urban governance had to be far more direct. In major cities in the West through the 1970s and 80s legislation began to follow these demands. For example, in 1973 the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States issued what were some of the first regulations concerning participation. The Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972 required “agencies to encourage and assist public participation in the development of standards, regulations, effluent limitations, plans, and programs being established under the Act.”10 The Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 in the US also required applicants for the Community Development Block Grants to certify community participation 11 in their project proposals. A similar legacy of citizen demand is reflected in legislation governing the planning process in the United
see, for example, http://www.fsm-a.org/ See http://www.epa.gov/history/topics/fwpca/04.htm 11 See, for example, http://www.maine.gov/tools/whatsnew/attach.php?id=1537&an=2 9
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Kingdom. The Planning and Compensation Act 2004, for example, requires a Statement of Community Involvement (Blackhall, 2005:377)12. These are all important advances that arose out of the demands for better community control. However, while Arnstein’s ladder and the subsequent changes in planning law point to greater citizen participation, they do not define how people participate or what citizen power would look like if it could be achieved. Even at the top of this ladder, there is some undefined and difficult deliberative/participative process that must occur. Democratic Processes While international human rights documents, such as those described above, focus more on the right to access the electoral system – to be able to choose one’s representatives and to participate in public affairs – this is certainly not what Arnstein and others meant by the word ‘participation’. Arnstein defined citizen control – the top rung of the ladder – as “A neighborhood corporation with no intermediaries between it and the source of funds” (Arnstein, 1968:223). Within that definition there are two important issues that should be clarified – the decision-making process within the neighbourhood and how those decisions can be heard by the ‘source of funds’. In this paper I will look only at the first of these two important aspects of governance. Decision-making – The Power Inquiry in the UK issued its report, Power to the People in 2006, after two years of studying the reasons for and responses to the growing disengagement of citizens from the political process. The report pointed out: “ . . . the flourishing of participation outside of formal democracy was only the first of three key characteristics of political disengagement that struck us as noteworthy. The second is the fact that alienation from that formal democracy is very intense and wide-spread. The third is that this is a problem afflicting nearly all of the established democracies.” (Power Inquiry, 2006:49) ‘Formal democracy’ here is related to party politics and voting in elections – those elements of political life that are the focus of such rights documents as the UDHR and the ICCPR. It is clear from the report, though, that political participation is flourishing outside these formal processes. In other words, there is another form of democracy acting in parallel with this formal system. People are turning away from those formal structures and finding their own paths to participative democracy. As a result, as the BBC summarized the
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report13, “Britain's political system is in danger of "meltdown" if major changes are not made”. While such a headline may seem alarmist, those formal structures of democracy are being forced into change or decay. Such an observation should come as a surprise to no one. Bob Dylan observed this forty years before: Come senators, congressmen Please heed the call Don't stand in the doorway Don't block up the hall For he that gets hurt Will be he who has stalled There's a battle outside And it is ragin'. It'll soon shake your windows And rattle your walls For the times they are a-changin' (Bob Dylan, The Times They Are A-Changin', 1964) Dylan here saw formal democracy as an obstruction to change, but change was and is raging ahead despite these obstructions. As the Power Inquiry pointed out, the citizens have already changed (Power, 2006:99), but the formal political structures have yet to respond. One of the more recent possibilities for change is deliberative democracy. As the term implies, rather than the sound bites and celebrity politics to which representative democracy seems to have descended, it involves “the public use of reason and the impartial pursuit of the truth.” (Held, 2006:232) As high-minded as this ideal of democracy is, its implementation is far more difficult and time-consuming than voting. The use of reason in the public realm is as rare as the impartial pursuit of the truth. In order to foster both in deliberative democracy, those partaking are expected to apply at least these three basic criteria: ‘fact-regarding’ – this would require the abandonment of doctrinaire positions and the access to facts/information ‘future-regarding’ – moving beyond immediate concerns to longer term goals. It would also entail some understanding of the concept of sustainability and the present’s responsibility to future generations ‘other-regarding’ – moving beyond immediate self-interest to the effects decisions have on other communities.14
See BBC 27 February 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4753876.stm from Offe & Preuss quoted in Held, 2006:232
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Clearly, before deliberations between citizens can occur, a great deal of leg work must be done. Facts must be gathered (what facts? To what ends?), long-term goals must be identified (of the individuals, the community, the city, the State) and the interests of other communities (which others?) must be recognized. In itself, this is a time-consuming process and one that would typically require the support of a number of institutions including the government and academia. Often this entails the framing of discussion and of facts by government officials and the consultants they hire to undertake deliberations. A recent example was the Deliberative Poll on the future of education in Omagh, Northern Ireland.15 The professionals and the government departments involved have an expressed interest in changes to education policy and improved efficiency in future spending. These changes could be controversial, particularly since they will require the consolidation of resources between Protestant and Catholic schools. Nearly 600 parents were polled in advance of a day-long workshop (deliberation) that was held on 27 January 2007. “The random sample brought together Protestants and Catholics of all shades of opinion, who then deliberated in small-group discussions and plenary sessions with panels of experts representing different policy perspectives. This was the first Deliberative Poll in a deeply divided society.”16 This, then, was not a community-directed initiative. It was directed by a group of professionals who were looking first for information on existing attitudes towards shared education and, second, on means to improve the acceptance of the idea of shared education. Through the information they provided, the polling team met with success. This was documented not only in their report but on a BBC documentary that recorded the events. In large part, that success was due to the framing – by professionals – of the questions, the subject matter and the process itself. On Arnstein’s ladder, this would still be very much in the range of ‘tokenism’ – a top-down process that was sector-based rather than community based. Could these 600 parents be defined as a community? Why only parents and not children? Single adults in the community? The community, as the community itself might define it, is not directing the poll or the topic of deliberations17. There would have to be other steps for actual
See http://cdd.stanford.edu/polls/nireland/ for more information on the process and the results. See http://cdd.stanford.edu/polls/nireland/2007/omagh-results.pdf 17 It is worth noting that James Fishkin, ‘one of the pioneers of deliberative democracy” (as Held describes him) was the lead consultant on this project in Omagh. As Held points out (p239), “[d]eliberative democrats do not take citizens’ preferences as simply given or preset . . .” but in this 15 16
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deliberative democracy to occur. Forester and others18 have pointed out that advocacy is a necessary part of a deliberative planning practice. “Forester specifically suggested that community networks should be actively cultivated, e.g. by alerting less-organized interest groups to significant issues and assuring community groups were engaged in debate about policies affecting them.” (Walters, 2007:35) In order to alert groups about significant issues the planner must have some idea both about the interests of the group and about the development issues and public policies that may affect those interests. The first requires an active network with neighbourhood groups and the second requires access to information, largely from government sources.19 Information gathered through research can be brought forward to network meetings. Further information is gathered at such meetings and disseminated throughout the network. In this way, it can be ‘fact-regarding’ by the continuous collection and distribution of important information. It can be ‘future-regarding through its understanding of planning and development issues in the city. And it is necessarily ‘other-regarding’ as a result of being in such a network. Through that, communities are able to support each other in their battles against eviction and they can also begin to develop alternatives to those official plans. Through that, they can establish a level of self-determination that is essential to their right to the city.
BIBLIOGRAPHY ARNSTEIN, Sherry R. "A Ladder of Citizen Participation," Journal of the American Planning Association, Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1969, pp. 216-224. (Available at: http://www2.eastwestcenter.org/environment/CBFM/2_Arnstein.pdf) BLACKHALL, J. Cameron. Planning Law and Practice. Third Edition. London: Cavendish Publishing Ltd., 2005. FORESTER, John. The Deliberative Practitioner: Encouraging Participatory Planning Processes. The MIT Press: Cambridge, Mass., 1999.
case it would seem there was an attempt to change any preconceived notions to better suit a government agenda. 18 See The Deliberative Practitioner (1999), Planning in the Face of Power (1989), Paul Davidoff (1965) “Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning”, AIPJ, 31:4. 19 One such organization working from a similar model is the Urban Resources Centre in Karachi (see http://urckarachi.org/Brief%20Introduction.htm) which gathers information on urban development issues and distributes it through regular forums. It develops further information through research and does so by combining the resources of local NGOs, community organizations, students and professionals.
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HANNUM, Hurst. “The Right of Self-Determination in the Twenty-First Century” in CLAUDE, Richard Pierre & WESTON, Burns H. Human Rights in the World Community: Issues and Action. Third Edition. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006. HELD, David. Models of Democracy. Third Edition. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2006. The POWER INQUIRY, Power to the People. The Report of Power: An Independent Inquiry into Britain’s Democracy. The Power Inquiry, 2006 (available at http://www.makeitanissue.org.uk/Power%20to%20the%20People.pdf) SALOMON, Margot E. with SENGUPTA, Arjun. The Right to Development: Obligations of States and the Rights of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples. Minority Rights Group International, February, 2003. Available online at: http://www.minorityrights.org/admin/Download/pdf/IP_RTD_SalomonSengupta.pdf TEHRANIAN, Majid. “Taming Capital, Holding Peace”, in AKSU, Esref & CAMILIERI, Joseph (eds.), Democratizing Global Governance. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. WALTERS, David. Designing Community: Charrettes, Masterplans and Form-based Codes. Oxford: Architectural Press, 2007.