Architecture, Planning, and International Law: On Domicide

Architecture, Planning, and International Law is a new open-ended series that will bring together legal and built environment experts to discuss urgent topics at the intersection of their jurisdictions. Our first event, On Domicide, took take place online on May 23 at 2 pm ET. In this video, legal and built environment experts evaluate the concept of “domicide” and its application to the current crisis in Gaza and beyond.

Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, defines domicide as:

“The deliberate destruction of homes, the rendering of homes uninhabitable or any other systematic denial of housing when such acts are carried out in violation of international law and committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population.”

How might this destruction be stopped? International law remains one of the only paths to seek accountability. And it is not only lawyers who make its systems function. Through their stewardship of the built environment, architects, planners, and preservationists can shed light on the techniques, procedures, and consequences of modern urban warfare. They also have the potential to change them.

Panelists include:
Natasha Aruri, an urbanist and researcher based in Berlin and Ramallah. Aruri is co-founder and director of the research and design studio UR°BANA, where she leads the research team for Ramallah in the multisite comparative project “Urbanization, Gender and the Global South: A transformative knowledge network.”

Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and a professor of law and development in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

The program is introduced and moderated by Brad Samuels, founding principal of architecture firm SITU and director of SITU’s research division, which focuses on the intersection of design, human rights, and technology.

The views expressed in the League’s online and in-person programs are those of the speakers only and do not reflect an official position of The Architectural League of New York.



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