UN-Habitat, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities. It is the focal point for all urbanization and human settlement matters within the UN system. The main documents outlining UN-Habitat’s mandate are the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements (Habitat I), the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements (Habitat II and the Habitat Agenda), the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium, and Resolution 56/206. UN-Habitat’s current mandate is also shaped by the United Nations General Assembly resolution 3327 (XXIX), which, in 1975, established the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation (UNHHSF).
The mandate was expanded in 1977 through resolution 32/162, which transformed the Committee on Housing, Building, and Planning into the Commission on Human Settlements. This Commission, comprising fifty-eight member countries, was serviced by the Centre for Human Settlements (also known as “Habitat”) that served as the focal point for human settlements actions and the coordination of activities within the United Nations system. Later, in 2002, through resolution 56/206, the UN General Assembly merged the UNHHSF foundation, the Commission on Human Settlements, and Habitat into UN-Habitat, a fully-fledged UN programme managed by its own secretariat and headed by its own Executive Director (who is also a UN Under-Secretary General).
The mandate of UN-Habitat is further derived from other internationally agreed upon development goals, including those established in the United Nations Millennium Declaration (Assembly resolution 55/2) — in particular the target on achieving a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers by the year 2020,* and the target to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by the year 2015.** Through the UN General Assembly resolution 65/1, Member States also committed themselves to continue working towards cities without slums, beyond current targets, by reducing slum populations and improving the lives of slum-dwellers.