Miami Law and Partners Launch Juneteenth Miami Declaration on Food, Housing, and Racial Justice

The Human Rights Program and Clinic joined with other advocates to call on governments to spare no effort to right human rights wrongs.
Miami Law and Partners Launch Juneteenth Miami Declaration on Food, Housing, and Racial Justice
April 2023 Food, Housing, and Racial Justice Symposium participants

On Juneteenth, the Human Rights Program and Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, together with emergency food providers, legislators, academics, and students from around the United States, launched the Declaration of Miami. The civil society declaration calls for the human rights to food and housing to be realized and promoted at all levels of government and society and to center racial justice in human rights struggles in the United States.

"Drafters of the declaration were inspired by the discussions that took place in April 2023 at the Food, Housing, and Racial Justice Symposium, which sought to connect the growing right to food movement to the right to housing movement and bring attention to the human rights violations inherent in our racist food system," said the Human Rights Clinic's Acting Associate Director Denisse Córdova Montes.

The symposium was hosted by the Human Rights Program and Clinic together with WhyHunger, the National Right to Food Community of Practice, West Virginia University Center for Resilient Communities, Miami Law's Office of Intellectual Life, Miami Law's Environmental Law Program, and Miami Law's Human Rights Society student group. Additionally, the University of Miami International and Comparative Law Review will publish a special symposium issue, capturing key insights and deepening analysis on the implementation of the rights to food and housing in the United States.

The Juneteenth Declaration also highlighted the People's Tribunal on the Rights to Food and Housing in Miami, which formed part of the April symposium. The tribunal, hosted by the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equity in the historically Black neighborhood of Liberty City, presented testimony from food providers and people with experiences of homelessness about the impact of the City of Miami's cruel and racist "Large Group Feeding Ordinance" that bans food service to groups of unhoused people throughout Miami. 

The declaration included accounts of food providers and recipients' harassment, displacement, and endurance in the face of laws explicitly targeting people struggling to secure housing. Tribunal judges found the city of Miami guilty of violating people's human rights to adequate food and housing.

"The People's Tribunal demonstrated that the City of Miami is creating a humanitarian crisis of hunger on our city's streets," said MCARE's Founder and Executive Director David Peery. "Rather than punishing the victims of poverty, the City should fund Housing First policies to constructively end homelessness and guarantee food security for all residents of our city." 

The declaration builds on advocacy with the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which recognized the need for the U.S. to guarantee the right to food, abolish laws and policies that criminalize homelessness, redirect funding toward adequate housing, and affirmatively further fair housing. “The declaration presents an exciting moment when advocates have come together and outlined specific steps at the various levels of government to make the rights to nutritious food and adequate housing a reality in the U.S.,” said HRC's Acting Director Tamar Ezer.

The declaration concludes with specific demands calling on civil society organizations and local, regional, state, and federal governments to recognize and promote the rights to food and housing as basic human rights.

“This declaration will surely resonate far beyond Miami and strengthen a global movement that has been organizing around these principles for decades," said West Virginia University's Professor Josh Lohnes. "Food is essential. Housing is essential. These basic needs should never be weaponized for political or financial gain, and those given the responsibility to govern must fulfill their responsibility to respect and protect these rights.”  

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