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“Forced from Home: A Human Rights Assessment of Displacement and Evictions in Boston’s Chinatown

(click here to download and read the full report)

Boston, as other cities in the US, is going through an acute displacement crisis. This is particularly felt by minority communities which are historically disadvantaged, such as Chinese and Chinese-American residents. The pressure on land and housing, generated by unbridled speculation, luxury real estate development, and short term rentals, compounded by lack of adequate affordable housing, makes these communities highly vulnerable to displacement and they suffer from multiple human rights violations as a consequence. There is a dire need to understand the displacement crisis as a human rights crisis and to assist these communities with measures that will reduce their vulnerability to displacement. One of those measures is a displacement impact assessment, which we argue should be made mandatory as part of all major development approvals. The use of the impact assessment in this study has revealed the potential of human rights frameworks in sharpening our understanding of the ways displacement impacts households and communities writ large. The City of Boston and the State could show the way nationally by making such assessments compulsory.

"Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City"

In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.
— Penguin Random House

"The Global Crisis of Displacement and Evictions: A Housing and Land Rights Response"  
(click here to download full text) 

The world is living through an unprecedented housing crisis. Approximately 1.6 billion people are considered to be inadequately housed, while one hundred million are homeless and another sixty million have been displaced from their homes. This crisis is multi-faceted, including issues ranging from forced evictions to displacement to gentrification; from the mortgage crisis to the austerity-driven decline in public housing to the exponential growth of slums. The worldwide housing crisis is being precipitated by war and destruction; by natural disasters and climate change; by misguided and capital-driven development.
— Miloon Kothari

"Radical Deprivation on Trial: The Impact of Judicial Activism on Socioeconomic Rights in the Global South"


This book is an empirical study of contributions by courts in the Global South to comparative constitutionalism. It offers an analytical and comparative framework for understanding these constitutional innovations and illustrates them with a detailed qualitative study of the most ambitious case in constitutional adjudication in Latin America over the last decade: the Colombian Constitutional Court’s structural injunction affecting the rights of over 5 million internally displaced people in Colombia, and its implementation process.
— Cambridge University Press

"Home Sweet Home: Housing Practices and Tools that Support Durable Solutions for Urban IDPs"


There is a consensus on the challenges inherent in responding to urban IDPs’ housing needs and rights, but knowledge of practices is limited. This report is a first step towards establishing analytical tools and practices that take into account the complexity of infrastructure and institutional, legal, political and policy frameworks which make urban areas far more difficult to work in than rural areas. It aims to guide and inform policymakers and practitioners when designing, funding and implementing housing policies and programmes that facilitate durable solutions for urban IDPs.



  • “Perverting Progress? The Challenges of Implementing both Fiscal and Social Responsibility in São Paulo (1995–2010)”, Urban Studies, 2012-06-06

  • “The Tools of Whose Trade? How international accounting guidelines are failing governments in the global South”, Third World Quarterly, 2010-06-23

  • “A Home in the City” with Pietro Gauro and Elliott D. Sclar, UN Millennium Project Task Force on Improving the lives of Slum Dwellers, 2005.


  • International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance (Cambridge University Press, 2003) (2nd edition forthcoming)

  • Right to Development and Global Governance: Old and New Challenges Twenty Five Years On, Human Rights Quarterly 35 (2013) 893-909.

  • International Law and its Discontents: Rethinking the Global South, 106 American Society of International Law Proceedings 176 (March 2012)

  • Counter-hegemonic International Law: Rethinking Human Rights and Development as a Third World Strategy, Third World Quarterly, Vol.27, No.5, pp.767-783 (2006)

  • International law and Social Movements: Challenges of Theorizing Resistance, 41 Columbia Journal of Transnational Law 397 (2003)

  • International Law and the Development Encounter: Violence and Resistance at the Margins, 93RD American Society of International Law Proceedings 16 (1999)

  • Reparations: A Dialogue between Human Rights Academics and Activists” (an edited volume, published under the auspices of the MIT PHRJ, 2004).

  • “Human Rights and Development: Legal and policy issues with special reference to Dams”, Commissioned Paper Submitted to the World Commission on Dams, (1999) available at

  • ‘Out – Damned Spot!’ – Hydropower, Forced resettlement and blood on the hands, Lead article, January 2, 2002, The World Paper

  • The Violence of Development, Opinion, August 8, 2001, The Washington Post, reprinted as “In Asia, Ethnic Cleansing in the Name of Progress”, August 10, 2001, International Herald Tribune

  • The Supreme Court and Human Rights, Opinion, December 6, 2000, The Hindu


  • “Confronting Urban Displacement: Social Movement Participation and Post-Eviction Resettlement Success in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania,” with Leonard Ortolano, Journal of Planning Education and Research 32, no.3: 278-288, 2012.

  • “Lessons from Mobilization Around Slum Evictions in Tanzania,” Forced Migration Review, 2012.

  • “Post-­Disaster Resettlement: More than a Question of Shelter,” In Instigations: Engaging Architecture, Landscape and the City, M Mostafavi and Christensen, P, 342-344. Zurich: Lars Muller Publishers, 2012.

  • “The Complexity of Participation: Learning from Slum Dweller Mobilization in Dar es Salaam,” The Global Urbanist. 2012.


  • “Bulldozing Basic Rights,” Opinion, Feb 23, 2005, The Indian Express

  • “Follow UN Norms for Evictions,” (with Shivani Chaudhry), Sep 1, 2008, Civil Society Magazine

  • “Evictions now a national crisis,” Interview with Siddharth Narrain, May 10, 2006, The Hindu

  • “Housing, Land and Sustainable Development,” (with Shivani Chaudhry), 2012, Social Watch Report



  • “Addressing the Land Claims of Indigenous People,” with Isabelle Anguelovski. Cambridge: MIT Human Rights Program, Center for International Studies (CIS). 2008.

  • “Water Diplomacy: A Negotiated Approach to Managing Complex Water Networks,” with Shafiqul Islam (Resources for the Future). 2012.

  • “The Consensus Building Handbook,“ with Sarah McKearnan and Jennifer Thomas-Larmer, Sage Publications, 1999.

  • “Multiparty Negotiation,”

    • Volume I: An Introduction to Theory and Practice

    • Volume II: Theory and Practice of Public Disputes Resolution

    • Volume III: Complex Legal Transactions

    • Volume IV: Organizational and International Negotiation with Larry Crump, Sage Publishers, 2009.


  • ‘Access to Land and the Right to Food’, Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, to the 65th session of the General Assembly, UN doc. A/65/281 (11 August 2010)

  • “Sovereignty-plus in the Era of Interdependence: Towards an International Convention on Combating Human Rights Violations by Transnational Corporations,” in Making Transnational Law work in the Global Economy: Essays in Honour of Detlev Vagts, P. Bekker, R. Dolzer and M. Waibel (eds), Cambridge University Press, 2010, pp. 245-284

  • “The host State: improving the monitoring of international investment agreements at the national level,” in O. De Schutter et al. (eds), Foreign Direct Investment and Human Development. The Law and Economics of International Investment Agreements, Routledge, London and New York, 2012, pp. 157-188

  • “The Green Rush: The Race for Farmland and the Rights of Land Users,” Harvard International Law Journal, vol. 52(2) (2011), pp. 503-559, available at:

  • “Large-scale Investments in Farmland: the Regulatory Challenge,” (with Peter Rosenblum), Yearbook of International Investment Law and Policy, chap. 14, pp. 563-610 (2011)


  • “The Durable Slum: Dharavi and the Right to Stay Put in Globalizing Mumbai,” University of Minnesota Press (Globalization and Community Series), 2014.

  • “Demolition and Dispossession: Toward an Understanding of State Violence in Millennial Mumbai,” Studies in Comparative International Development, Special Issue on Cities, Violence and Development in the Global South, 48(3): 285-307, 2013.

  • “Slum Free Mumbai’ and other Entrepreneurial Strategies in the Making of Mumbai’s Global Downtown.” In M. Peterson and G. McDonogh (eds.) Global Downtowns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 234-257, 2011.

  • “Democracy in the Globalizing Indian City: Engagements of Political Society and the State in Globalizing Mumbai,” Politics & Society, 37(3): 397-427, 2009.

  • “The Changing Right to the City: Urban Renewal and Housing Rights in Globalizing Shanghai and Mumbai,” with Xuefei Ren, City & Community, 8(4): 407-432, 2009.