It has been increasingly acknowledged by legal scholars and urban researchers alike that the dominant pattern of combined sociospatial segregation and informality that has profoundly
marked urban development globally has historically resulted to a significant extent from the exclusionary nature of the urban legal systems prevailing in most developing and transitional countries. In this context, policymakers, urban managers and social movements committed to the urban reform agenda have been asking a fundamental question: what does it take to make
the national and local urban legal systems effective factors of sociospatial inclusion instead? A growing sociopolitical movement internationally has vigorously argued that the promotion of legal reform is necessary to support any significant attempts at urban reform. As a result, new urban laws governing land rights and management, territorial organization, planning, and housing have been enacted in several countries and cities in recent years, and a
serious investment has been made by several non-governmental and governmental institutions towards the formulation, and approval, of inclusive legal systems in rapidly urbanizing countries.
But, what exactly can be expected of these new urban laws? What is required for them to be fully enforced, and socially effective? What are the nature, possibilities and constraints of progressive urban laws vis-a-vis the broader sociopolitical process? This presentation aims to discuss such questions through a critical assessment of Brazil's national urban policy law - the 2001 City Statute -- which has been widely regarded as a groundbreaking effort to conceive a regulatory framework which is more conducive to providing adequate legal support to governmental and social attempts to promote urban reform. The City Statute was approved
following 12 years of intense discussion and fierce disputes within and outside the National Congress. Since then, it has been acclaimed internationally, Brazil having won UN-HABITAT's
Scroll of Honour in 2006 for having approved it. Envied by policymakers and public administrators in several countries, the ambitious City Statute has been proposed by the Cities Alliance as a paradigm to be considered internationally. More than 10 years have passed since its approval, and a critical assessment of the conditions of its enforcement should provide important elements
for the more general discussion on the growing, real as well as false, expectations existing around the newly approved urban laws.
LL.B., Minas Gerais Federal University, Brazil; Dip. Urb. Plan., MGFU; LL.M. in Law in Development, Warwick University, UK; Ph.D., Warwick University. Fernandes is a dual Brazilian/British national based in the UK, and works as a lecturer, researcher, writer and legal consultant. He is currently a member of DPU Associates (London, UK) and of the Teaching Faculty of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (Cambridge MA, US). Before moving to the UK in 1988, Fernandes worked as a lawyer, city planner and as a lecturer in Brazil (1980-86), as well as a legal advisor during the national Constitution-making process (1986-88). His main teaching and research interests include land, urban and environmental law; land and urban planning, policy and management; informal land markets, urban land regularisation and
land registration; local government and metropolitan administration; protection of cultural heritage; and constitutional law and human rights in developing and transitional countries.
For over 20 years, he has also been a consultant to many governmental and national/international non-governmental organisations, such as UN-HABITAT, UNDP, Unesco, OSCE, World Bank, FAO, DfID, IHS, WYG and Urbaplan, having regularly worked in Brazil and most of Latin America, South Africa, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria, Syria, Russia, Cape Verde, and elsewhere. In 2003, Fernandes was Director of Land Affairs at the Ministry of Cities in Brazil, and in that capacity he co-ordinated the formulation of the National Programme to Support Sustainable Land Regularisation in Urban Areas. He has published several articles in academic and technical journals, as well as contributed chapters to several books in English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian. Most recently, he authored a book entitled "Regularization
of Informal Settlements in Latin America" (2011, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy).