Monday, June 3 - First US Delegation Press Briefing in Istanbul at Habitat II
Dr. Michael Stegman, Temporary Head of delegation, in place of Cisneros
Melinda Kimble - State Department, Deputy Assist Sec. Global Issues
David Hales- USAID - Deputy Assistant Admin. Global Programs
Ambasador Victor Marrero - US Representative to the UN Agency - ECOSOC
Comments by Dr. Stegman:
State why we take the Habitat II Conference very seriously. We believe that the US cannot ignore the plight of our own urban communities and problems of cities of other countries. Our approach to the issues of rapid urbanization must be global because the problems we all share know no national borders. HII will advance the cause of sustainable development. The Habitat Agenda will provide for the first time an agreed upon framework economically, socially environmentally thriving urban communities in the 21st century . What we are talking about is as relevant to US cities as it is to global cities. I work alot with the problems of public housing and we are not going to solve crime and drugs in public housing unless we improve livelihood possibilities and try to find sustained ways to support family life in farms and...cocoleaves in Guatemala.. These problems are connected to our problems. (emphasis added)
We are here to celebrate partnerships at home and abroad through remarkable series of activities of this conference:
Habitat II is truly making it possible for citizens in your organizations, local authorities, business leaders--all have come to talk about framework for developing solutions for the problems of our cities. We are here to talk about promoting community empowerment in the context of the Habitat agenda. We are here to talk about enablement. This conference recognizes those who create the problem must take an active part in the implementing of the solution to those problems and a number of elements associated...with Habitat Conference itself....particularly the Best Practices competition of sharing and the early indicators of projects of putting information in the hands of grass roots organizations to see what the conditions of their communities are, where the money is going that is suppose to be helping them and providing information...We are providing information to the grassroots level and that is what we are doing throughout the conference. (emphasis added)
Columbus May Greg Lashutka - Mayor of Columbus in 1992
Introduction to Lashutka by Stegman:
--Creating a shared community vision for Columbus as a 21st century international city of excellence.
--Elected in 1996 President of the National League of Cities. Serving on the U.S. Advisory Commission for Intergovernmental Relations. "Under his leadership, Columbus has broadened its outlook to become America's premier inland international city. " In 1994, Columbus hosted the UN World Summit on Trade Efficiency at which official from around the globe discussed ways to increase trade through electronic commerce.
--He is here not only on US delegation but participating in the World Assembly of Cities that met before Habitat II. His perspective as to why this conference is important to cities in the United States.
"Grateful for the opportunity to join this delegation and meet with mayors over some extended period of time, there is clearly a need for local government to participate and commit itself to a recognition that much of the innovation occurring in our country can be replicated in other regions across the world. .....the ability to get the best ideas and concepts from anyone around the world to our local communities, both in education and business because that is what people can see through the media through worldwide instanteous communication.
2. To take those concepts and provide confidence in the workplace to be able to create a workforce that can competence with the international workforce.
3. Develop connections that are worldwide, not just relying on our own neighborhoods.
......,President of the Int'l Union of Local Authorities of which the National League of National Cities are a member. Certainly many of us are members recognize and we have talked about this at the World Assembly because mega-government wherever it is does not react as quickly as nimble, local government on a regional basis. And many of us believe that to be the case. That certainly underscores sustainability involving life which is important, the thesis upon which Henry Cisneros and the U.S. delegation believes that the our Department of Housing and Urban Development should be able to given.....
Lastly, before the technology standpoint is critical because we can now communication so many ways, not just through the news media, but through the Internet, with many forms of ability opening up to the marketplace which will give our local governments an ability to provide .....to pay for the cost to build the infrastructure....it will be with business, NGO's , non-profits. Therefore, I suggest that mayors who are not thinking along these lines are making a huge mistake.
Q by The Washington Times: What position doe the US delegation have at this time with regard to "right to adequate housing?"
A. At the plenary session---we recognize that there is a right to adequate housing as a component to existing human rights derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that speaks about an adequate standard of living that should be realized. We said today that we are here to reaffirm that language and that right and that it is time for us to turn our attention to the meaning, significance, implications, responsibilities for all those who are engaged in the community building process as to what their roles and responsibilities are in moving us along in that continuum of meeting that right and progressively moving us in that way.
Q: ...How come change in attitude in Part 4 ---
A. We are focusing of one part - the right to adequate standard of living which is the Universal Declaration talks about singling out for a moment, the adequate standard of living....which should progressively be realized.
In New York, we said, "Let's get away from abstract definitions and talk about how governments should express their commitment to this kind of housing right by providing some language into the draft global programme of action. For example, if a country really believes in housing rights--progressively realizable or not, we suggested that they should consider providing adequate legal protection from and effective remedies against discrimination of any kind. ....We said if we want to be serious about the realization of housing rights that countries ought to take action to provide legal security and equal access to land....there are places in this globe where women cannot get credit and own property. We think this is the right place to discuss the roles and responsibilities of various actors in the provision and delivery of housing, including housing, communities, the private sector. We are not creating a new language.
We are not here creating new rights but showing you the spotlight on something that is almost 50 years old and talks about an aspirational right...the right of every family to have adequate standard of living to provide for care for and protect all that is needed. This is a good place to look at the shelter part of that and sustainable communities. (emphasis added)
Q by Joan Veon:
Question for both of you. From a philosophical standpoint, we are really talking if we could
use the phrase, "no national borders" so we are really talking the global village concept, correct?
A: (Stegman) "We are talking about global communities, global capital markets, so yes."
JV: You talked about regional government, regionalism, defining the areas of the regions.
Mr. Mayor you talked about regionalism and your quote was "mega-government will not be able to react as well as local, regional government which underscores sustainable life." Could you please address the philosophical shift of the Clinton administration from that of "Joe Average" in America who knows nothing about the UN, regionalism, the global village--they are not paying attention. Could you just address that please with regard to where that leaves our Bill of Rights and Mr. Mayor could you please help me understand what you mean by "sustainable life."
In researching sustainable development and its definition, I ended up in the 1977 Constitution for the USSR and it basically gave me the definition that I see in the document.
Answer - Stegman
"First of all let me say the awareness of the average American. We held 12 meetings in preparation for Habitat because there was a domestic preparation side putting together what are the broad principles of sustainable communities at home as well as looking at the global issues here and plan of action. Let me assure you that people in communities whose incomes are being affected by global markets and international trade by the fact that wage levels are affected in local communities by what is going on in the international community, the premium that is being placed on labor force and training--the kinds of skills people need to compete with this labor force, believe me they understand something about the kind of world they and their children are growing up in. With regard to how we use the term, region and you talk about the Clinton policies, we are very much aware that labor markets are regional, they don't stop at city boundaries. Housing markets are regional metropolitan in scope they don't stop at city limits. We are trying to broaden our urban housing and community development programs that
are operating regionally to connect people with jobs. We understand that if that metropolitan community is going to compete in the global economy, it needs a healthy core and we are very much involved in creating healthy cores. That's very much consistent with a global inter-connected marketplace.
Mayor: I think you asked a very good question. If you look at history, they happen much slower. We could not be at a better place than Istanbul to see dominating groups in their history and yet the world has reduced itself so quickly that these changes are very rapid. We are now in that period. Myland, Ohio is not known to you--example--home of Thomas Edison--small, lake Erie. Myland was the second largest grain exporting port in the world, second to only to Odessa, Russia. A burgeoning ocean-building--boat building that would take the grain from Myland--out Erie Canal to ocean. Two things happened, the dam broke and the railroad came along. What is happening to regions of the world is that we can all be Myland, Ohio's unless we take advantage of opportunity. I think this conference highlights why opportunity is there. This conference highlights that. My city as an example. Strategic plan...I would not use the 1977 constitution of USSR, I would use our own country. In our country we have allowed for the ability of our people to experiment and see things work...wellness, how we look at healthcare issues--partnerships, safety--not from just historic and how fire protection is in the wellness issue, economics...housing--life long learning as the core value in the social infrastructure. ...To me that is a part of sustainability that is important and we must do it even better and that is what I think every mayor and NGO's .... (emphasis added- Note: Lashutka does not understand that sustainable development IS NOT FOUND IN THE US CONSTITUTION--but it is found in the USSR Constitution!!!)
JV: I have covered about a dozen UN conferences and represent about 20 million people a number of major conservative networks and are very much concerned with a shift away from the shift away from the sovereignty in the United States to a global hierarchy, if you will and we are talking about homogenization, harmonization. The United States has 10 regions, I am sure you are aware of that so when I was talking regional, I am sure you understand....I just want to get a philosophical clarification. When we talk about being concerned about the UN Declaration of Human Rights, I just want to feel more comfortable with regard to whether or not the US Constitution is still in tact or being harmonized up to the UN charter.
Stegman: I can assure you it is still in tact. (emphasis added)