CLA News / The CLA and UN-Habitat form a new partnership to focus on urban law with other key Commonwealth Associations


On 05 June 2023, at the Second UN-Habitat Assembly, three Commonwealth Associations signed an agreement to cooperate towards a joint research agenda, advocacy, capacity building and outreach events for cities, encompassing urban law, human rights and climate justice. This cooperation responds to the Commonwealth Declaration of Sustainable Urbanisation adopted by Heads of Government at CHOGM last year.

The partnership comprises the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA), the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) and the Commonwealth Association of Planners (CAP) and will focus on addressing urban vulnerabilities and positively impacting resource-poor communities in least developing, low-and middle-income countries. The new partnership will help build the capacity of national and local governments in promoting effective, climate smart and rights-based law, and will contribute to strengthening the SDGs in cities.

The collaboration will build on the work undertaken by UN-Habitat, concentrating its efforts on the following actions to drive change in cities, where it counts most.

  • Developing a legal checklist for cities as a user-friendly diagnostic tool to build the capacities of lawmakers, planning authorities, government officials and organisations, and identify areas for law reform for the achievement of sustainable and climate-focused SDGs.
  • Promotion, dissemination, and advocacy of existing UN-Habitat, CLA, CAA and CAP tools and data sources such as UrbanLex across Commonwealth regions beyond Africa.
  • Participating in joint research agendas on urban law, human rights and climate justice and piloting existing and future normative toolkits and methodologies.
  • Participating in joint outreach events during internationally recognised forums dealing with issues around sustainable cities and climate change
  • Spreading awareness, skills and knowledge of best practice legal methodologies, participating in joint training events and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events on thematic urban law and climate justice topics.
  • Collaborating with the Commonwealth Secretariat and other UN bodies with a view to sharing knowledge and building capacity and coordinating activity.

UN-Habitat Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said, “We are confident that the collaboration will be fruitful and of mutual benefit for achieving our goals for strengthening SDGs in cities and believe that this cooperation could form the basis for a project to be jointly prepared, and a strategy for the long-term mobilization of funds to be designed.”

CLA President, Dr Peter Maynard KC, said, “The SDGs, in particular SDG 11 and the work to address the vulnerabilities of poor urban communities, give a welcome renewed focus to solving the most intractable problems of our time.  We too as lawyers from across the Commonwealth want to leave no person behind as we embrace the prospect of safe, resilient and sustainable cities and an opportunity to make a difference with our partners in this collaboration for climate justice and sustainable development”.

CAA President, Peter Oborn, said, “The CAA recognises the vital importance of urban law as a key driver of sustainable urbanisation, not only in terms of legislation but also in terms of implementation and the Commonwealth provides the perfect platform for delivering real impact at scale. We look forward to working with partners to advance this important agenda.”

 CAP President, Eleanor Mohammed, said, “CAP is committed to interdisciplinary partnerships that support sustainable urbanisation. By working together, we can make cities and human settlements, resilient and sustainable. This collaboration is foundational for future capacity building in communities both in the Commonwealth and globally.”

6th June 2023

About the signatories:

UN-Habitat is mandated by the UN General Assembly to promote environmentally and socially sustainable cities and human settlements and has developed several normative products that support effective urban legislation.

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association is an association of legal professionals committed to maintaining and promoting the rule of law across the Commonwealth, including strengthening professional links, maintaining the honour and integrity of the profession, promoting uniformity in the standards of professional ethics and encouraging improved standards of education. CLA’s Climate Justice Committee has been established to develop and action responses to the climate crisis founded on human rights, justice and equality.

The Commonwealth Association of Architects is an association of national institutes of architects from across the Commonwealth. Its objectives are the advancement of Architecture in the Commonwealth and the promotion and acquisition of knowledge of the various arts and sciences connected therewith, with the object of ensuring the maximum contribution by architects to the wellbeing of society.

The Commonwealth Association of Planners brings together 30 national professional planning organizations representing over 40,000 professional planners. Members organizations operate at all levels of government and in the private sector, non-government organizations and community-based associations. Today the institution plays an increasingly significant role in promoting planning as fundamental for sustainable human settlements, mitigating the impacts of climate change and building resilient communities.

For further information:

UN Habitat: Ms. Anne Amin, Legal Specialist:

Commonwealth Lawyers Association: Ms Brigid Watson, Secretary General:

Commonwealth Association of Architects: Ms Maira Khan, Executive Director:

Commonwealth Association of Planners: Ms Kelley Moore, Secretary General: