The right to the city

Abstract: The right to the city

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first formulation of the right to the city. It is an unconventional right (subjective right in a wider sense, right, conceptually opposed to the substantive law, law – subjective public law) to such extent that mainly non-lawyers take care of it: philosophers, sociologists, political scientists, geographers, economists, architects or urbanists – and not lawyers. One can even speak of a deficit, not only in our country, of law studies on the right to the city. Attempts at determining the content and the legal character of this right, more and more frequently being treated as a human right (fundamental right), are all the more necessary.
The right to the city was defined by philosophers and antropologists; however, it is already directly reflected in legal documents: in the Brazilian Act of 10 July 2001 – The City Statute invoking the Constitution, the World Charter on the Right to the City of 2004, the Charter on the Right to the City of the City of Mexico of 2010 or the New Urban Agenda of the UN of December 2016. The documents, of diverse legal value and diverse contents, allow for an identification of the content of the right to the city (in a broad sense the right to: a fair use and access by all the residents to everything the city can offer, to a collective participation of all the residents in all issues concerning the city, and the effective functioning of any human rights in the urban context, i.e. within the scope of various aspects of life of “city-walls” and “city-community”, while tightening the content of this right in certain doctrinal and normative speeches) and a constatation that it is a comprehensive right the residents of the city are entitled to both individually and collectively, belonging to the so-called third generation of human rights.
Regardless of the fact that the right to the city is not directly formulated in legal acts binding in the Republic of Poland, the Polish legal order is already constituted by various rights included in the content of the right to the city: the right to access to services within the area of public utility (services provided in the general interest, common services), the right to participation in the process of making public decisions, the right to housing or the right to the environment and a right that has started to be considered as fundamental: the right to good administration as a substantial part of the right to good governance and the right to good space. Despite being generally too “soft”, the right to the city is already shaped to such extent that it cannot be ignored in such weighing, in case of conflict, of various subjective rights (including the right to property) that cannot lead to an infringement of the essence of any of the laws – and its particular complexity, expressed in itself containing contents of many other fundamental rights of various generations, should all the more indicate a need to preserve its essence, i.e. the provision of conditions of subjective life of all the residents of the city.