Sunday, February 26, 2017

LD Mar/Apr 2017 - The Right to Housing - Negative Position

Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.

Negative Position

I personally think the negative position will be problematic for many debaters. I guess one of the main reasons for this is human rights are popular. No one wants to violate another's human rights. Governments from around the world are embracing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a basis for their constitutions and national laws. Generally speaking, the social reforms embodied in the UDHR are good ideas and certainly beneficial to the well-being of humans everywhere and so it is not easy finding evidence which counters these ideas. Of course by now, if you have done any research you have discovered this for yourself. When looking at this resolution, we could focus on the "ought" mandate. For example, there is an argument that "ought" implies "can" and if one cannot do what one ought, then for her it is no longer a moral duty. Consider the drowning child analogy. If one sees a drowning child, one (ought) has a moral duty to rescue the child. But what if the witness is incapable of swimming? In this case, the duty to act is contingent upon the the understanding the individual is capable of fulfilling the duty. So the Neg debater can work the idea of the analogy into a contention and claim that nations ought guarantee the right to housing only if they are able. It will still be a difficult debate, because how can a rich nation like the U.S. claim it cannot while a less affluent nation like South Africa embraces the duty? For this analysis, I will take a different track. I will spend a great deal of effort in looking at at the so-called "right" to housing. Why is it a right? What exactly is a right? I will argue the "universal" qualification of the UDHR is questionable. I will also do some discussion on the clash of rights. When one right infringes upon another, how to we resolve the conflict?  Finally, I want to take you on a completely different kind of course, a kind of critical assessment of the concept of giving and its implications with respect to the old but rarely debated (these days) philosophy of biopower.

Protection of Inalienable Rights

Those who have been engaged in Lincoln Douglas debate throughout their careers or even in the course of this single year are probably already familiar with the political philosophy of John Locke. Locke speaks about the state of nature and the emergence of the social contract as a mechanism for protecting the natural rights, which for him are life, liberty and property (or the pursuit of happiness for others). In political theory, these are considered the inalienable rights, that is, those rights which no government should ever infringe. The idea of liberty is seen as an expression of autonomy or self-rule and was not to be easily given up to the government. The founding fathers of the United States and those who drafted the U.S. constitution, were influenced by Locke and other political philosophers of the day and sought to establish a nation which protected the inalienable rights. The transfer of property as advocated in this resolution was contrary to the principle of guarding the natural rights. Autonomy permitted each to retain or dispose of their property as they saw fit.

Green (2012):
In eighteenth century political thought, rights were founded in reason. The idea was that "the world and its relation to human society [was] a single intelligible structure," capable of comprehension through the application of reason. The concept of human autonomy emerged, which presupposed a belief in self-regulation, development, and direction. We were no longer bound to a world driven by the exorable movements of the natural world, but now humans could transform their world from one of basic self-preservation to a rational form of conscious planning. Autonomy became the premise for emergent theories of society that presupposed basic needs and legal entitlements. It became the duty of government to promote and refrain from interfering with "the integrity of self-determination in human creative action." This also meant that "[w]hether guaranteeing a sphere of freedom in which the [person] can act, or assuring the minimal conditions under which the [person] might live, the notion of rights became inseparable from the conditions of the factual world." Although, "in some sense, any normative principle differs from the factual world insofar as it is an ideal for, rather than a reflection of, the ordering of the world."
At the time of the Declaration of Independence, this duty to enable self-determination was not interpreted to mean a duty to ensure some ownership of property to all citizens, even if unequal. Instead, the aim was to protect from governmental interference those inalienable rights, identified as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These rights were interpreted to mean not only protection against physical assault, but also the recognition and identification of a certain personal sphere of autonomy necessary for self-realization and selffulfillment. However, the failure to attempt to spread property ownership seemed inconsistent with the highly influential labor theory of property, famously described and explained by John Locke. [397-398]

Lincoln Douglas debaters should understand the concept of negative and positive rights and the role of the constitution in guaranteeing rights. Rights are justified claims made upon others. In order to assure my rights (claims) others have an obligation to honor those claims. Think of the social contract in this context. A claim of a right upon others is like a contract. More properly, I suppose, we can see how my claim to a right imparts a moral duty upon others to grant my right.

Velasquez, et al (2014):
Kant maintained that each of us has a worth or a dignity that must be respected. This dignity makes it wrong for others to abuse us or to use us against our will. Kant expressed this idea in a moral principle: humanity must always be treated as an end, not merely as a means. To treat a person as a mere means is to use a person to advance one's own interest. But to treat a person as an end is to respect that person's dignity by allowing each the freedom to choose for himself or herself.
Kant's principle is often used to justify both a fundamental moral right, the right to freely choose for oneself, and also rights related to this fundamental right. These related rights can be grouped into two broad categories—negative and positive rights. Negative rights, such as the right to privacy, the right not to be killed, or the right to do what one wants with one's property, are rights that protect some form of human freedom or liberty, . These rights are called negative rights because such rights are a claim by one person that imposes a "negative" duty on all others—the duty not to interfere with a person's activities in a certain area. The right to privacy, for example, imposes on us the duty not to intrude into the private activities of a person.
Kant's principle is also often used to justify positive or, as they are often called, welfare rights. Where negative rights are "negative" in the sense that they claim for each person a zone of non-interference from others, positive rights are "positive" in the sense that they claim for each person the positive assistance of others in fulfilling basic constituents of human well-being like health and education.

The founders of the United States understood the concept of negative and positive rights and were determined to guard the inalienable right of liberty. Since claims of rights impose an obligation upon others, rights impose a burden on liberty. Thus, there was a strong desire to limit the positive rights to maximize personal autonomy and check the powers of government. The so-called welfare rights are limited for this reason.

Argan (2005):
One of the chief analytical tools of constitutional interpretation is the basic distinction between positive and negative rights. The conventional thinking is that the Constitution confers no positive right to governmental aid or assistance; instead, the Constitution operates in a negative fashion, preventing the government from abridging certain rights or freedoms. It is often said that the Bill of Rights guarantees freedom from government interference, not a right to governmental assistance. As the Supreme Court explained in DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services:
The [Due Process] Clause is phrased as a limitation on the State's power to act, not as a guarantee of certain minimal levels of safety and security. It forbids the State itself to deprive individuals of life, liberty, or property without "due process of law," but its language cannot fairly be extended to impose an affirmative obligation on the State to ensure that those interests do not come to harm through other means .... Consistent with these principles, our cases have recognized that the Due Process Clauses generally confer no affirmative right to governmental aid, even when such aid may be necessary to secure life, liberty, or property interests of which the government itself may not deprive the individual.[100-101]
Inherent in the foregoing discussion of rights a recognition and attempt to manage the clash of rights. In particular we see how rights claims impose duties upon others which can limit their autonomy and liberty. Our founding fathers have favored negative rights in order to preserve liberty and so the positive welfare rights which impose additional burdens on others must be carefully weighed aginst the loss of personal liberty.

The Right of Property

For John Locke, the right to property is inalienable. Property can mean many things which goes far beyond land and houses and incorporates a broad range of claims of ownership, including one's own body, and one's intellectual or creative production and also includes a recognition of privacy as a property claim. For the purposes of this resolution we can narrow our focus to housing. Our definition as stated by international statutes tells the right to housing includes much more than a mere roof over one's head. It includes what is deemed an "adequate" standard of living and so lays claim to a number of kinds of property. However, recall that tangible property is not produced by mental or physical effort without claiming rights to actual some kind of physical property. Property which already has claims by others. So the constitution guarantees the right to keep or dispose of property as one sees fit with limited government interference, but the constitution does not guarantee property ownership.

Green (2012):
At the time of the Declaration of Independence, this duty to enable self-determination was not interpreted to mean a duty to ensure some ownership of property to all citizens, even if unequal. Instead, the aim was to protect from governmental interference those inalienable rights, identified as "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." These rights were interpreted to mean not only protection against physical assault, but also the recognition and identification of a certain personal sphere of autonomy necessary for self-realization and selffulfillment. However, the failure to attempt to spread property ownership seemed inconsistent with the highly influential labor theory of property, famously described and explained by John Locke.[398]

The preservation and protection of property was seen as a protection of the inalienable right to liberty. This is further explained in the source as Green continues.

Green (2012):
Indeed, at the Philadelphia Convention, Alexander Hamilton stated: "It was certainly true that nothing like an equality of property existed: that an inequality would exist as long as liberty existed, and that it would unavoidably result from that very liberty itself." [400]

Property has value to be protected because some of the founders believed it permits individuals to work toward greater autonomy and less dependence upon the government. But, the value of property is preserved only when it is protected.

Green (2012):
The value of property is realized only when it is protected, that is, backed up by the state. In this sense, as stated in the beginning of this Article, property is about the right to exclude from the vantage of one with property or with the ability to acquire it. "[T]he power to exclude that our legal structure of property gives us is the starting point of all contracting, all negotiation over use of, access to, and exchange of property and labor." The constitutional protection for property can be perceived as protecting individual autonomy by erecting walls around rights beyond which the government or other individuals may not intrude. But where one lacks a sphere of one's own, and is entirely dependent upon the charity of others, one cannot be said to be autonomous. Like liberty, property facilitates democratic selfgovernance both directly and indirectly. It does so directly by dispersing power, thereby creating a means of enforcing accountability, and indirectly by facilitating the exercise of other liberties. [402]

The Legitimacy of Human Rights

Locke's inalienable rights are seen as universal. All humans, regardless of ideology, religion, or social and economic status are entitled to these legitimate claims. Indeed, it can be argued the natural rights are bestowed upon humans impartially either by divine provenance as many 18th century philosophers believed or by virtue of our innate commonality as a species. The epistemological basis of rights is disputed but nevertheless one can argue Human Rights lay claim to a similar foundation. However, if the Neg can show that so-called housing rights are rooted in political aspiration rather than the fundamental value system common to all humans the judge should reject the Aff claims that housing is a universal right.

Fitzpatrick & Watts (2010):
First, and most fundamentally, intrinsic to the notion of human rights is the idea that they are self-evident, inalienable and non-negotiable: ‘absolute’ in other words. But are the rights declared by the architects of international and European human rights instruments – particularly social rights such as the right to housing – any less politically contested than other claims about how material resources should be distributed in society? One could argue that labelling such claims as moral ‘rights’ is a mere rhetorical device intended to shut down debate by investing one’s own particular political priorities with a ‘protected’ status; after all, as Dworkin (1977) put it, ‘rights are trumps’. But if one dispenses with theological or other natural law justifications for human rights, then what is the foundation of their protected status? Many human rights supporters argue that they are not anchored in a pre-social natural order or in divine reason, but rather are socially constructed and inter-subjective, rooted in a broad normative consensus about the things that all human beings are morally entitled to in order to attain a basic standard of living and to participate in society (Dean, 2010). But the idea that such a consensus exists at a global level is, at the very least, highly arguable (Finch, 1979; Miller, 1999; Lukes, 2008).[109]

As I outlined in the Affirmative analysis of this resolution, the universal human right to housing spans the range of human needs. However, the Negative side of this resolution claims that legitimizing human rights on the basis of human needs is a flawed construct.

Fitzpatrick & Watts (2010):
Such arguments are intuitively appealing, based as they are on the common-sense premise that people have a right to what they need, albeit that positivists might argue that they illegitimately derive an ‘Ought’ (a value statement) from an ‘Is’ (a factual statement). However, even if it is accepted that the Is/Ought gap can be bridged by statements about human need, McLachlin (1998) gives good reasons for resisting any simple equation of needs and rights: there are many things we need that cannot be provided to us as of right. Ignatieff (1984), for example, argues that love, belonging, dignity and respect are all things that we need, but they cannot be provided within a formal framework of rights.[110]

Let's look to my previous analogy of the drowning child and consider the necessity that ought implies can. A key requirement for the legal validation of rights is the fact they can be protected. Recall, property only has value if it is protected. Human rights are legitimate only insofar as they are enforceable.

Fitzpatrick & Watts (2010):
The second common critique of human rights concerns their lack of enforceability within current institutional contexts. Scruton (2006, pp. 20–21) powerfully articulates this objection:
Rights do not come into existence merely because they are declared. They come into existence because they can be enforced. They can be enforced only where there is a rule of law… Outside the nation state those conditions have never arisen in modern times… When embedded in the law of nation states, therefore, rights become realities; when declared by transnational committees they remain in the realm of dreams – or, if you prefer Bentham’s expression ‘nonsense on stilts’.[111]

Finally, it is important to understand an other difference between natural rights and human rights revolves around the ability of governments, charged with protecting rights, to understand the scope and limitations of the claims to rights. Due to the vague nature of many human rights claims, adjudication and enforcement is by necessity transferred from the executive government to the judiciary.

Fitzpatrick & Watts (2010):
The ‘rights’ expressed in international instruments are, inevitably, broad and abstract in nature rather than detailed, delimited and contextualised. If such abstract rights were in fact to be rendered routinely enforceable via courts (international or domestic) this would amount to a major transfer of policy-making power from the political to the legal sphere. Particularly in the case of social rights such as the right to housing, the granting of wide-ranging policy discretion to the courts implies judges determining the allocation of scarce resources in situations where ‘hard choices’ have to be made between a range of needy and/or deserving cases (see also King, 2003). The term ‘over-socialisation’ has been used to describe the situation whereby courts are inappropriately used to decide policy issues (Dean, 2002) and sensitivity to this point lies behind the classic international law distinction between obligations of ‘means’ and obligations of ‘results’ with respect to social rights such as housing (Hammarberg, 2008). Aside from the obvious constitutional concerns about judges rather than (one would hope democratically elected) politicians setting broad policy aims and priorities, it would be unwise for those of a progressive political bent to assume that the judiciary is always apt to be on their side (Griffiths, 1991).

This kind of transfer of power violates the U.S. constitutional principles behind the balance of power, needed to check the powers of the U.S. government. But there is another reason to reject the clams to some human rights including the right to housing as legitimate rights within the context of international law. Many of the rights fail the precept of universality.

Tasioulas (2013):
I believe any variant of the general thesis that human rights bear a constitutive relationship to political legitimacy faces a powerful dilemma in meeting the desideratum of fidelity to the post-Universal Declaration culture of human rights. If compliance with human rights it taken to approach anything like a sufficient condition of legitimacy, a problem will arise in capturing a central feature of human rights thought. This is the idea that the self-same set of human rights, including broadly identical normative content in the duties associated with those rights, is attributable to all human beings throughout the globe. The uniformity of content of human rights, so understood, is in tension with the relational character of assessments of legitimacy. By the latter, I refer to the fact that whether or not any particular state is legitimate depends upon the obtaining of a certain kind of relationship between the state in question and its putative subjects. This relational character means that the selfsame law, or laws with identical content, can be legitimate with respect to some putative subjects and not others. We see an illustration of this tension in Dworkin’s theory, in which compliance with human rights operates as something close to a sufficient condition of legitimacy. Deploying his “good faith test” of legitimacy, Dworkin points out that “a health or education policy that would show good faith effort in a poor country would show contempt in a rich one.” This means that the normative content of the human right to health—the substantive level of health care that it makes obligatory—can vary enormously from one country to another. In a rich country, good faith about human dignity may require the provision of IVF treatment or even some forms of cosmetic surgery, whereas inhabitants of poorer countries would only be entitled to the most rudimentary levels of health care, or perhaps would have no positive entitlement to health care services at all. On this sort of view, the idea that the human right to health confers the same entitlement to all human beings has been effectively eviscerated.

Finally, I will close this discussion of the legitimacy of the universal right to housing by looking at the implementation of such a right, in particular the burdens and practically its application places on governments. Let's see if passes the common sense test.

Sunstein (2003):
If we take the pragmatic approach, we will be likely to ask whether social and economic rights would be a sensible part of an enforceable constitution containing the important institution of judicial review. Should a constitution create a “right to just and favourable remuneration”? To “a standard of living adequate for the health and leisure of” one’s family, “including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services”? To “rest and leisure”? What would these provisions mean, concretely? What would they mean in a poor nation with high levels of unemployment and inadequate medical care and housing? What would they mean, concretely, in a wealthy nation like the United States or France? If a nation failed to protect the relevant rights, would courts be authorized to intervene—as they usually are when rights are violated? [11]

We don't need to speculate about the answer or surmise theoretical examples or speculations. We can look to places where such laws protecting these kinds of rights are already implemented and note, their impractical nature has forced governments to erect the veneer of compliance while passing over the enforcement duties the laws demand.

Sunstein (2003):
American courts have been reluctant to recognize social and economic rights in part because of a belief that enforcement and protection of such rights would strain judicial capacities. Political actors, even those interested in helping poor people, have been skeptical about the likely effectiveness of constitutional provisions that might be ignored in practice. Outside of the United States, some nations, including India and South Africa, have been alert to the underlying difficulties, and have sharply limited the constitutional status of such rights by reducing judicial authority. And as I have noted, social and economic rights have served as aspirations, with apparently no real-world effects, in the many nations in which they are recognized. It is hard to show that when nations are relatively more likely to help poor people, it is because they have constitutional provisions calling for such help.[11]

The bottom line for Sunstein is nations inclined to help the underprivileged will do so, but enactment of welfare laws such as the right to housing is no guarantee such a right will be realized.

A Kritik of Sorts

While a-priori critiques (kritiks) are fairly common in Lincoln Debate on the national circuit, kritiks remain forbidden ground in traditional circuits. As a policy debate coach, I am very familiar with many kritiks but as a coach on a traditional LD circuit we tend to shy away from critical debate which challenges the resolutions and rhetoric of the proponents. Of course, I think that it is possible to leverage the philosophical foundation and impacts of many kritiks, structure them into a traditional package and run them. Many of the sources for this section are taken from the Gift-K still available online in various contexts relative to past Policy Debate and LD resolutions. Where possible, I have refreshed the links to the cards in the Sources section of this post below. The Arrigo & Williams paper is in my personal archive but the section I quote is seen in many of the online sources embedded in the Gift-K. Bear in mind, I am not going to take this beyond the cards shown below and this explanation of how to apply them.

Simply put, the basic premise of the Gift Kritik, relevent to foreign aid or aid to the underprivileged is the idea the giving of a gift (in the form of aid) generates a reciprocal obligation in the recipient. It is usually an obligation that cannot be repaid and so the gift becomes a form of biopower or dominance of the underprivileged who is indebted (enslaved) to the giver.

Ahluwalia (2001):
By drawing on the analogy of the sun, Bataille examines the theory of the potlatch, which Marcel Mauss had posited, arguing that the system of exchange did not necessarily entail reciprocity. For Bataille, the purpose of gift giving is not merely to receive gifts in return, but that through the act of giving there is an acquisition of power. And this action that is brought to bear on others is precisely what constitutes the gift’s power, which one acquires from the fact of losing. (p. 70) But the one who receives then feels obligated to return a gift, and in the process seeks to outdo the original gift-giver in order to obliterate the effect of obligation. And yet, for Bataille, the ideal potlatch would be one that could not be repaid. It is this sense of spending and dissipation that determines and measures wealth. He points out that the purpose of the potlatch is not simply reciprocity but the conferring of rank upon whomever has the last word. The potlatch thus should be seen as an example of the general economy where excess and luxury are the key defining aspects. The general economy is an economy without equilibrium, one characterised by loss and expenditure without return. In short, gift giving without the expectation of return within the principle of the general economy is a luxury — the excess that is necessary to keep the system in balance [18]

The U.N. suggests the right of housing should be embedded into the development policies of nations and thus housing is recognized as an inherent element of progress. But development is a luxury enjoyed by those nations which have crossed the peak of the Kuznets curve. Development in and of itself is a manifestation of privilege and can serve to "otherize" less developed nations.

Gordon & Sylvester (2012):
The concept of development privileges certain societies, cultures and institutions, while disparaging others; it is grounded in defining the “Other” as incompetent, inferior and in need of transformation. That most “undeveloped” people are people of color only reinforces the Western view of the developing world as essentially dysfunctional, for it comports with American views of brown and black people in the United States. For Europeans the development project continues the colonial civilizing mission. Taking up where colonialism and the “White man’s burden” left off, the development project provides the legal and moral justification for substantial interventions in the affairs of those who have been categorized as underdeveloped.14It justifies and supports the economic and political status quo and the imbalance of international power, and it renders the underdeveloped powerless, for it is the developers who name subjects, problems and solutions. The objective in the following pages is to construct and then deconstruct the concept of development, and to question whether development is so fundamentally flawed that it should be abandoned in favor of a post-development paradigm.[5]

Thus the creation of the "other" empowers economic domination and entrenches the hegemonic ambitions of the privileged nations.

Gordon & Sylvester (2012):
A critical aspect of the dominance of the West resides in its power to produce and propagate knowledge and to thereby create categories such as the underdeveloped. The West has been able to define and indeed to create the “Other” – objects to be studied, described and developed, and that “Other” is invariably lacking, deficient, inferior, and in need of Western assistance. This power to define and represent others is assumed “in the portrayal of ways in which people live their lives, in articulating their experiences – and on this basis, in shaping the processes of change.” Peoples with complex and varied histories, cultures and communities became homogenized masses mired in intolerable poverty and in need of Western assistance. The objects of development proliferated and included, inter alia, poverty, insufficient technology and capital, rapid population growth, inadequate public services, and archaic agricultural practices; new problems were continually incorporated, categorized and further defined. Indeed, the “vast surface over which the discourse effortlessly moved eventually covered practically the entire cultural, economic and political geography of the Third World.”

The basis of the original Gift K (at the time when I first heard of it) was this paper by Arrigo and Williams. Here is the introduction to their thesis.

Arrigo & Williams (2000):
The impediments to establishing democratic justice in contemporary American society have caused a national paralysis; one that has recklessly spawned an aporetic existence for minorities. The entrenched ideological complexities afflicting under- and nonrepresented groups (e.g., poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, crime) at the hands of political, legal, cultural, and economic power elites have produced counterfeit, perhaps even fraudulent, efforts at reform: Discrimination and inequality in opportunity prevail (e.g., Lynch & Patterson, 1996). The misguided and futile initiatives of the state, in pursuit of transcending this public affairs crisis, have fostered a reification, that is, a reinforcement of divisiveness. This time, however, minority groups compete with one another for recognition, affirmation, and identity in the national collective psyche (Rosenfeld, 1993). What ensues by way of state effort, though, is a contemporaneous sense of equality for all and a near imperceptible endorsement of inequality; a silent conviction that the majority still retains power. The “gift” of equality, procured through state legislative enactments as an emblem of democratic justice, embodies true (legitimated) power that remains nervously secure in the hands of the majority.
The ostensible empowerment of minority groups is a facade; it is the ruse of the majority gift. What exists, in fact, is a simulacrum (Baudrillard, 1981, 1983) of equality (and by extension, democratic justice): a pseudo-sign image (a hypertext or simulation) of real sociopolitical progress.
For the future relationship between equality and the social to more fully embrace minority sensibilities, calculated legal reform efforts in the name of equality must be displaced and the rule and authority of the status quo must be decentered. Imaginable, calculable equality is self-limiting and self-referential. Ultimately, it is always (at least) one step removed from true equality and, therefore, true justice.
The ruse of the majority gift currently operates under the assumption of a presumed empowerment, which it confers on minority populations. Yet, the presented power is itself circumscribed by the stifling horizons of majority rule with their effects. Thus, the gift can only be construed as falsely eudemonic: An avaricious, although insatiable, pursuit of narcissistic legitimacy supporting majority directives. [321-322]

This contention can be developed into an interesting and compelling argument which can open the door to Foucault and other more contemporary philosophies. Biopower has quality of life impacts and can make for interesting and fun debate with receptive judges.

The Value Framework

I will conclude this post with a very brief overview of the value framework. The underlying themes which call out to me on this particular Neg position are autonomy and liberty.  The value premise of autonomy is very important in the American culture and one that should play well with judges. The Neg preserves autonomy by maximizing personal liberty or choices. The same came be said of liberty. Every new positive right imposes a limitation upon personal liberty and so the Neg preserves liberty by limiting government overreach. I also think government legitimacy is a possible value with additional focus in the contention debate on how attempting to comply with UDHR requirements burdens the citizens, deprives them of liberty or violates the social contract. These are simple ideas, easy to debate and in need of further development. Neg will be facing an Aff world in which the underprivileged suffer grave harms. Certainly Neg can sympathize with the harms of the status quo. But let's not lose sight of the fact there are plenty of groups trying to address these problems, but the human rights context is not a legitimate path to solvency.


Ahluwalia P (2000) “Towards (Re)Conciliation: The Post-Colonial Economy of Giving”, 01 March 2000, Accessed 2011 at: 

Argan K (2005), When Government Must Pay: Compensating Rights and the Constitution, 22 CONST. COMMENTARY 97, 115 (2005). Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Arrigo, B; Williams, (2000) C (California School of Professional Psychology), 2000 “The (Im) Possibility of Democratic Justice and the "Gift" of the Majority.” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice.

Fitzpatrick, S; Watts, B (2010),  The 'Right to Housing' for Homeless People. In E. O'Sullivan, V. BuschGeertsema, D. Quilgars, & N. Pleace (Eds.), Homelessness Research in Europe. (pp. 105-122). Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Gordon  RE, Sylvester JH (2012), Deconstructing Development, Wisconsin International Law Journal, Vol. 22, No. 1, 2012. Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Green SD (2012), Imagining a Right to Housing, Lying in the Interstices, 19 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol’y 393 (2012). Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Sunstein CR (2003), "Why Does the American Constitution Lack Social and Economic Guarantees?," University of Chicago Public Law & Legal Theory Working Paper, No. 36 (2003). Accessed 2/10/2017 at:

Tasioulas, J (2013), Human Rights, Legitimacy, and International Law, Am J Jurisprud (2013) 58 (1): 1-25. Published: 21 May 2013. Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Velasquez M, Andre C, Shanks T, Meyer S.J. and Meyer M. J. (2014), Rights, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Aug 8, 2014. Accessed 2/17/2017 at:

LD Mar/Apr 2017 - The Right to Housing - Affirmative Position

Resolved: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing.

Aff Position

The Aff debater should have little problem finding supporting evidence and points of view. The so-called right to housing is widely adopted in international law, urged by the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Art. XXIV) and supported by many governments around the world. In fact, as I shall demonstrate in this article, it is not always necessary to fill one's files with a vast array of sources and authors to make a compelling case. My approach to this position is fairly basic. I will specify the scope of the right to housing, present the harms in the status quo which guaranteeing the right to housing will solve and then show how voting Affirmative links to advantages. Finally I briefly discuss the framework debate.

The Right to Housing

When we talk about the right to housing we are referring to the idea humans, by virtue of the fact they are human, are entitled to basic human rights which support the necessities required for human flourishing. Recall the work of Abraham Maslow, in which he conceptualized a five-layered pyramid with physiological needs such as food and water at its base and self-actualization at the pinnacle. The hierarchy describes how attainment of each layer allows one to focus on attainment of the next. While it may be obvious housing can meet some very basic needs, such as protection from the environment, the argument is made it can be a bridge linking all of the layers of Maslow's hierarchy.

Seelig, et al (2008):
Housing is often discussed as though the shelter attributes of housing — which correlate with the lower two stages of Maslow’s framework — are the most important features for housing interests. However, Maslow’s need framework can be interpreted much more broadly in terms of what else housing provides as a base for emotional development, social participation, personal status and ontological security, where notions of place and home, neighbourhood and community, capacity and opportunity, all correlate with the higher aspects of basic need. Aspects of housing can thus be seen in each of the stages and across all of them.

It seems, therefore, there is so much more to the right to housing than basic shelter from the elements. In order to provide the means to achieve self-actualization, the right to housing needs to satisfy a broad spectrum of human requirements.

Kabir (2002):
Housing is indeed a foundation from which other legal entitlements can also be achieved. For example, the adequacy of one's housing and living condition is closely linked to the degree to which the right to environmental hygiene and the right to the highest attainable level of mental and physical health can be enjoyed. In view of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR):
[t]he right to housing should not be interpreted in a narrow and restrictive sense, which equates it with for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one's head or views shelter exclusively as a commodity. Rather it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity. ... The reference in Article 11(1) must be read as not just housing but also to adequate housing.[104]

One of the keys to transitioning across Maslow's hierarchy is found in the resolution: The United States ought to guarantee the right to housing. When the government becomes a partner in supporting the flourishing of its citizens, the benefits can be realized. Of course we need not advocate the government should focus solely on individuals. The government has a duty to provide for the well-being and safety of its collective citizenry and one way it does this is by adopting policies which promote growth and development, for example, advancing the economic opportunities, providing infrastructure and ensuring national security. The combination of the right of housing in its broadest sense with national development provides a framework for flourishing.

Kabir (2002):
Clearly emerging is a potent link between the right to adequate housing and development as the former ensures the full enjoyment of a host of rights by individuals having placed at the centre of all development activities.
Lack of housing for human resources and potential work force or denial of this right, for example, by way of forced eviction seriously endanger the development activities and undermines human dignity. Such deprivation also turns any endeavor for achieving even fulfillment of human beings into a sheer mockery.[110]

And herein, we establish a principle value premise in human dignity which I will expand more fully, later in this analysis.

Harms in the U.S.

The harmful effects of our current policies regarding the right to housing can be found on the streets and alleys of most urban communities as well as the hills and plains of much of rural America. Poverty, homelessness and hopelessness are visible to those who care to look. While non-governmental organizations do what they can to assist those in need, much of the need goes unattended due to lack of resources and perhaps more importantly, lack of awareness. In the richest nation in the world, we have a a growing problem.

Foscarinis, et al (2004):
In the United States, on both the federal and state levels, governmental commitment to financing and subsidizing affordable housing for low-income people has declined precipitously in recent years. Between 1976 and 2002 budget authority for federal housing assistance dropped by $28.1 billion. In January 1977 the Ford administration submitted to Congress a budget request for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that would have funded 506,000 additional low-income housing units. Subsidized housing commitments dropped to 60,590 in 1982, to 33,491 in 1995, and to 8,493 in 1996. HUD has been increasing funding for housing units since 1996 but to nowhere near the level of the late 1970s. Average time on waiting lists for public housing has grown steeply. While the commitment to create new subsidized units has tapered off to nearly zero, the stock of federally subsidized housing is being rapidly depleted as owners of privately owned but publicly  subsidized housing stock prepay government-insured mortgages or opt out of government contracts. Since 1996, an estimated 120,000 affordable units have been lost in this manner, and 1.4 million HUD-subsidized units are in jeopardy.[7]

While this source is dated 2004, it gives up a good idea of how long housing for lower-income or underprivileged families has been declining. Moreover we can understand the housing market crash and global recession of 2008 only served to exacerbate the problem, especially considering that housing availability was already alarmingly low.

Foscarinis, et al (2004):
In the United States in 1999, half of all renter households (51 percent) had either moderate or severe housing problems. Forty-three percent had high housing costs, with 21 percent facing severe cost burdens (over 50 percent of income) and 22 percent having moderate cost burdens (30–50 percent of income). Twelve percent lived in housing with severe or moderate physical problems, and 5 percent were overcrowded. Moreover, 57 percent of overcrowded households also had problems of quality or cost burden. Half (51 percent) of households with quality problems were also overcrowded or had high cost burdens. The impact of housing problems on children is an important measure of housing adequacy. A 1998 joint report by physicians at Boston Medical Center and Housing America found that inadequate housing had numerous health effects on children.[8]

Consider now, the impact of the housing market crash of 2008.

NLCHP (2014):
From 2008 until May 2014, there were over 5 million foreclosures, representing 10% of all homes with a mortgage.37 In just May of 2014, foreclosure notices were filed against one in every 1199 housing units—in Florida, this rate is as high as one in every 469 units.
Many of these foreclosures were preceded by predatory lending practices, which target primarily poor and minority borrowers (who may have no other options) with agreements that incorporated insecure tenure by their terms, due to payment conditions borrowers could not sustain.

The residents of Flint Michigan understand all to well the human impact when a government fails to guarantee the right to housing, or in this case the right to housing defined as adequate living conditions. Government financial cutbacks in water treatment resulted in massive lead contamination of the city's water supply.

OHCHR (2016):
The expert on extreme poverty noted that the decline of federal funding in the US for water and sewer systems in recent decades has disproportionally affected poorer cities: 41.5% of Flint residents live below the poverty line, and 56.6% are African-Americans.
“The fact that Flint residents have not had regular access to safe drinking water and sanitation since April 2014 is a potential violation of their human rights,” warned the UN Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Léo Heller. “Serious problems reported on water quality, particularly high concentrations of lead, are also concerning human rights issues.”
“Flint residents are confronted with one of the most expensive water and sanitation systems in the US, which has led to many thousands of them receiving water shutoff notices in 2015 because they could not afford their bills,” the expert said.
The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, cautioned that “the impact on housing and living conditions for an already vulnerable group is clear and devastating.”
“There are deep and obvious connections between the human right to adequate housing, the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation and the right to life,” the expert said.
“Persistently high water and sewerage rates cause housing affordability issues and may expose the most vulnerable residents to homelessness when they can no longer afford their bills,” Ms. Farha stated.
The three UN experts also expressed concern that the water crisis in Flint will have a deep and long-lasting impact on its residents. Lead poisoning could permanently impair the health of thousands of people, particularly children, and the psychological impact of the crisis has been severe. “Trust in the local authorities has been seriously undermined,” they said.

While looking at the most visible impacts of U.S. policy with respect to housing we can look at the U.S. ability to respond to natural disasters which displace thousands of residents from their homes and properties. Hurricane Katrina, which struck the Gulf coast of the U.S. displaced one million people. Many of them have yet to return. If the government adopted policies in line with guaranteeing the right to housing, housing needs would be be more fully incorporated into their disaster recovery plans. 

NYCBar (2016):
The United States’ failure to recognize a right to adequate housing further complicates its response to an increasing number of devastating natural disasters. A response to such disasters based on international human rights law would require an assessment of both the extent of the disaster and the ongoing implementation of the right to adequate housing. Were the federal government to recognize such a right, a number of key items to be assessed could be incorporated into its disaster recovery plans, including (i) the ratio of housing damage to overall damage, (ii) damage to rental units versus owner-occupied units, (iii) degree of habitability, (iv) cost to rebuild, (v) measurement of damage concentration, and (vi) pre-disaster local conditions such as housing costs and other social and economic data. During post-disaster recovery periods, authorities could then measure annually, for example, the number of houses rebuilt, the profile of the returned population, and community participation, all as marked against this predisaster and pre-recovery information. As a result, these measurements could be used to ensure access to affordable, decent housing by all populations impacted during the disaster by streamlining disaster relief efforts, exposing discriminatory practices, appropriately allocating federal, state, and local relief funds, and otherwise.[23-24]

Harms To Human Health

The connection between adequate housing, poverty and human health should be obvious. The homeless in the U.S. tend to fall between the cracks, so to speak. They are often invisible to the wealthy and many of the more privileged citizens in a community. Yet the impacts of homelessness or inadequate housing are most often reflected in the health outcomes of children.

Foscarinis, et al (2004):
Homelessness continues to grow at an alarming rate in the United States, and about 3.5 million people, 1.35 million of them children, are likely to experience homelessness in a given year. Homeless people do not receive adequate emergency assistance. A study of twenty-seven U.S. cities found that 37 percent of requests for emergency shelter in 2001 went unmet due to lack of resources—a 13 percent increase from the previous year. For families, the numbers are even worse: 52 percent of emergency shelter requests from families were denied, a 22 percent increase from the previous year. A review of homelessness in fifty cities found that, in nearly all, official estimates of the number of homeless people greatly exceeded the number of emergency shelter and transitional housing spaces.
The impact of homelessness is most severely felt by children; homeless children are 50 percent more likely than housed poor children to die before their first birthday. Of the children and youth identified as homeless by state departments of education in fiscal year 2000, only 35 percent lived in shelters. Thirty-four percent lived doubled-up with family or friends, and 23 percent lived in motels and other locations. Yet these children and youth may not immediately be recognized as homeless and are sometimes denied access to shelters, schools, and school services.[10]

Violation of Other Legal Rights

To conclude this discussion of harms we must understand the U.S. failure to guarantee the right to housing leads to the violation of other important rights. Moreover, the U.S. is being criticized by the international community and in particular the United Nations for failing to mitigate the harms and violations of rights arising from ignoring universal human rights.

NYCBar (2016):
Despite its piecemeal efforts at expanding housing stock, the failure of the United States to comprehensively codify the right to adequate housing has led to a host of violations of basic civil and political rights, including continued race- and gender-based discrimination in housing and inadequate responses to natural disasters. These failures, many of which are rooted in economics and finance, have resulted in scrutiny of the right to adequate housing in the United States; both the UN’s Special Rapporteur on adequate housing and its Special Rapporteur on safe drinking water and sanitation have spoken out about housing rights-related concerns in the United States. Specifically, in 2010, Raquel Rolnik, the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, highlighted the United States’ lack of housing affordability, inability to fully deter housing-related discrimination, and overall lack of meaningful public participation in decision-making on national housing policies. Applying international human rights standards in her assessment of the United States’ realization of the right to adequate housing, Rolnik indicated that, while the US generally offers a high quality of housing stock across the nation, she had “deep concern about the millions of people living in the United States today who face serious challenges in accessing affordable and adequate housing, issues long faced by the poorest people and today affecting a greater proportion of society.” These shortcomings should serve as an impetus for the United States to use and adopt international legal standards so that it can take a comprehensive, enforceable approach in securing the right to adequate housing. The international human rights approach to ESC rights, including the right to housing, provides a structure and clearly defined standards that cannot be achieved through the United States’ piecemeal approach.[16]

The U.S. is obligated, under international law to adopt policies which lead to a remedy.

Foscarinis, et al (2004):
Under international law, obligations to uphold the right to housing include the obligation to provide effective remedies for violations of the right. Such remedies need not always be judicial in nature. International human rights law offers flexibility with respect to different legal systems and traditions. Nevertheless, a fundamental obligation prevails—to provide effective remedies and to interpret and apply domestic law in a manner consistent with international human rights law.
Rather than offering any meaningful protection of the right to housing, however, the U.S. judicial system is frequently enlisted in support of violations of the right. Homelessness in the United States is increasingly criminalized, with cities banning associated activities such as sitting, sleeping, or loitering in public places. This use of criminal law to punish homeless people for conduct inherent in their status constitutes discrimination based on “property, birth or other status” in contravention of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other treaties. Further, it contravenes the U.S. commitment in a provision of the Habitat Agenda that homeless people will not be penalized for their status. [11-12]

Housing Is A Gateway Right.

This brings us back to Maslow's hierarchy of needs. It is impossible to strive for self-actualization and fulfillment of diverse human ideals without satisfying the fundamental needs as a first condition. The right to housing is seen as a gateway to other rights and privileges. These gateway are the advantages of solvency.

NYCBar (2016):
Without full realization of the right to adequate housing, other rights become difficult to realize. At a base level, the right to housing affects the right to life, liberty, and security of person. For example, domestic violence victims especially need secure housing to ensure their safety. The lack of adequate housing also inhibits the realization of the rights to health and well-being, education, and clean water and sanitation. Furthermore, where the exercise of a right requires proof of residency—as is sometimes seen with the rights to vote, secure employment, or make decisions about the family—the right to housing becomes paramount.[7-8]

Kabir explains it best for us and provides the link to some of the most basic of natural and legal rights as well as the need for safety and security. By guaranteeing the right to housing the United States promotes the rights to life, liberty and property. John Locke would be pleased.

Kabir (2002):
The indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights find unequivocal expression through the right to housing. Housing is globally viewed as a primary base for meaningful enjoyment of a multitude of other rights, for example, the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom of association (such as tenants and other community-based groups), the right to freedom of residence, the right to particpate in public decision-making. Equally the right to security of persons (in the case of forced or arbitrary evictions or any other forms of harassment) and the right not to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference withone's privacy, family, home or correspondence, constitute a very important dimension in defining the right to adequate housing.[104]

Thus I affirm.

The Framework

To conclude the Aff position, I will take a few moments to discuss the framework debate. Philosophically, we can consider the works of John Rawls' Veil of Ignorance or Immanuel Kant and his Categorical Imperative.

Velasquez, et al (2014):
Kant's principle is also often used to justify positive or, as they are often called, welfare rights. Where negative rights are "negative" in the sense that they claim for each person a zone of non-interference from others, positive rights are "positive" in the sense that they claim for each person the positive assistance of others in fulfilling basic constituents of human well-being like health and education. In moral and political philosophy, these basic human needs are often referred to as "welfare" concerns (thus this use of the term "welfare" is similar to but not identical with the common American usage of "welfare" to refer to government payments to the poor). Many people argue that a fundamental right to freedom is worthless if people aren't able to exercise that freedom. A right to freedom, then, implies that every human being also has a fundamental right to what is necessary to secure a minimum level of well being. Positive rights, therefore, are rights that provide something that people need to secure their well being, such as a right to an education, the right to food, the right to medical care, the right to housing, or the right to a job. Positive rights impose a positive duty on us—the duty actively to help a person to have or to do something. A young person's right to an education, for example, imposes on us a duty to provide that young person with an education. Respecting a positive right, then requires more than merely not acting; positive rights impose on us the duty to help sustain the welfare of those who are in need of help.

Kant's deontological ethics provides a framework for upholding basic human values. For example, I previously isolated the value of human dignity. Human dignity quite simply is the recognition that all humans have intrinsic worth regardless of their status or place in life. The right to housing preserves human dignity by maximizing the ability to realize self-actualization or by minimizing suffering. You may also want to consider other important values already discussed, such a life, liberty and property. Of course there is always justice as a worthy value. Consider the principle of giving each his due based on maximizing societal well-being or promoting general welfare. There are many possibilities.

For more on this topic or other articles about LD Debate, click the Lincoln Douglas tab at the top of this page.


Foscarinis M,  Paul B, Porter B, Scherer A,(2004), The Human Right to Housing: Making the Case in U.S. Advocacy. 38 Clearinghouse Rev. 97, 2004. Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Kabir, AHM (2002), development and human rights: Litigating the right to adequate housing, Asia-Pacific HOurnal on Human Rights and the Law 1: 97-119, 2002. Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

NLCHP (2014), Human Right to Housing Report Card, National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, 2014. Accessed 2/20/2017 at:

NYCBar (2016), Advancing the right to housing in the United States: Using International Law as a foundation, Report by the International Human Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association, Feb 2016. Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

OHCHR (2016), Flint: “Not just about water, but human rights” – UN experts remind ahead of President Obama’s visit, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, 3 May 2016. Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Seelig, T, Milligan, V, Phibbs, P, Thompson, A (2008), Reconceptualising housing need in the context of 21st century Australian housing policy, Australian Housing
and Urban Research Institute, October 2008. Accessed 2/15/2017 at:

Velasquez M, Andre C, Shanks T, Meyer S.J. and Meyer M. J. (2014), Rights, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, Aug 8, 2014. Accessed 2/17/2017 at:

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

PF Mar 2017 - The Two-State Solution - Con Position

Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.

The Con Position

Like the Pro Position posted previously, there are perhaps, some subtleties to this position. First of all, it seems to imply the U.S. is currently pressuring Israel to drive toward the two-state solution. However, there seems to be little to no overt pressure being applied now or in the past. The same is not true outside of the U.S.  The U.N. as well as many E.U. nations, while not sanctioning Israel, has condemned its responses to the two-state solution. Moreover, the Palestinians have had some successes pressuring Israel with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. A January 2016 article in the New York Times explained :
Formally, the B.D.S. movement began with a 2005 Palestinian campaign—endorsed by more than a hundred and seventy Palestinian civil-society organizations—to encourage public condemnation in the West of the occupation, the settlements, and, arguably, their ideological roots. Leaders of the B.D.S. movement have also called for “full equality” for Palestinian citizens in Israel proper and endorsed the demand for a Palestinian right of return. Omar Barghouti, a founder of the movement, insists that B.D.S. does not threaten Israel’s survival but rather its “unjust order.”

In 2014, the Obama administration released a report considering sanctions against Israel and outlined several measures it could take to pressure Israel with regard to settlements in East Jerusalem. One of the measures included refusing to veto U.N. resolutions which condemned Israel which is exactly what happened in December of 2016 when the U.S abstained on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements. This abstention was the most visible sign of overt pressure arising from an apparent general shift by the Obama administration away from unconditional support for Israel. Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu was obviously disturbed by the U.S. abstention but it is unclear at this time what kind of pressure if any, was experienced in Israel. I am not aware of any laws or action taken in Israel since that time to curb the building of settlements which can be directly attributed to a reaction from the U.S. abstention in the U.N. Trump, on the other hand, did tell Netanyahu to "hold off on settlements for a bit". Is that a signal, the U.S. will continue to "pressure" Israel while declaring absolute friendship? It is far too early to tell.

A Two-State Solution Solves

The current situation is often called the Arab-Israeli conflict and that aptly defines the harms in the status quo. Terrorism, retaliation, bigotry and generations of people learning to hate others has created a situation where hopes dim with every passing year. The ground work for a two-state solution was laid in the 1940s and agreed-to in the 1990s and the two-state solution remains the best possible option for solving the conflict. A key issue for both sides is security and especially for Israel in light of the fact some nations in the area have called for Israel's eradication. Founding a legitimate Palestinian state could improve Israel's security.

Walt (2010):
A two-state solution would also improve Israel’s security vis-à-vis Iran, according to Walt. “By removing Iran’s main source of leverage,” he writes, “and by facilitating rapprochement between Israel and countries such as Saudi Arabia (that have their own concerns about Iran), a two- state solution may in fact be the best way to minimize the threat that Iran now presents.”
In addition, a negotiation with Palestine would improve Israel’s reputation in the Middle East and help Israel reach its goal of “enduring legitimacy” in the region. Given its nuclear arsenal and conventional military strength, occupying the West Bank no longer serves an essential security purpose for Israel. Israeli forces should relinquish the occupied territories and allow the creation of a viable Palestinian state, a step that would help re-legitimize Israel in the eyes of the international community. Many countries in the Middle East refuse to acknowledge Israel’s existence, but most have pledged to do so if a two-state solution is reached.
A workable two-state solution would also require a secure Palestine. A Palestinian state would need to have security forces that could ensure internal order and patrol its own borders, but without posing an existential threat to Israel. Accordingly, reaching an understanding on specific security arrangements and capabilities is bound to be central to any “final status” negotiation.
“The most likely arrangements for a future Palestinian state,” writes Walt, “seek to maximize Israel’s security by ensuring that the future Palestinian state is never in a position to threaten Israel directly. . . . Although this would be a dramatic improvement from the Palestinians’ present condition, these constraints are still bound to be deeply worrying, especially given the potential for future disputes over access to water resources and religious sites.” Because extremists on both sides are likely to use violence to try to derail a future agreement, an international peacekeeping force might be needed while Palestinian security institutions were being strengthened.
Despite inevitable disputes and obstacles, in the end Israel stands to benefit from an independent and secure Palestine derived from a two-state solution.
“Today, Israel’s security would in fact be enhanced by a competent and legitimate Palestinian state that could provide for its own people and keep order in the area under its control,” Walt writes. “Paradoxically, a weak or divided Palestinian community is precisely the sort of environment in which anti-Israeli terrorism can flourish.”

And some scholars who are experts in Middle East Policy insist the Two-State Solution is the "only" solution to bring about peace.

Ben-Meir (2009)
The two-state solution is not one of many options; it is the only option. This right of the Israelis and Palestinians has garnered tremendous currency in the last 60 years, at many conferences, many meetings. The Clinton parameters, the Roadmap, the Arab Peace Initiative, the current negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians — all speak about the simple requirement of a two-state solution. Yes, it will take bold action. The Israelis will have to come to the conclusion that a two-state solution cannot be just a name. It has to have facts — proper borders, proper places for the Palestinians. This means to me relinquishing 99 percent — I say 99 for a reason — of the West Bank and certainly the entire Gaza Strip in order to establish an economically viable Palestinian state, independent, living side by side with the state of Israel. Consistently, Palestinians as well as Israelis — between 69 and 70 to 73 percent — all support without any question the creation of a Palestinian state living in peace beside the state of Israel. This is what it has to be. I agree 100 percent with Bill on the issue of leadership. Leadership has been in short supply in Israel as well as among the Palestinians.

And not only must the United States take the lead and continue to push toward a two-state solution, but other Western nations must help as well.

Fean (2017):
This conflict is emphatically not between equals, but between the occupier and the occupied. Israel is creating new facts on the ground “leading towards one state and perpetual occupation” as Kerry warned. Before asking what Britain can do now to promote a just peace, it is worth saying what won’t work. Quiet diplomacy, for one. We’ve tried that. Quiet diplomats get ignored. Second, US-led shuttle diplomacy, such as Kerry conducted for nine months. The US is necessary but not sufficient to resolve this conflict. And while no one can be sure what hand President Trump will play, the omens are bad.
And we can’t leave it to the two conflicting parties to sort it out. The Middle East peace process became just that – a process. Direct unconditional negotiations between the strong and the weak only leave the weak, weaker. That’s not how to end the occupation. It will need an initiative by the international community, shaping the outcome, providing security guarantees, upholding the law, ensuring a better tomorrow for both peoples. The Paris conference should develop a wider consensus based on security council resolution 2334 and re-commit all Arab states to recognising Israel in return for a sovereign Palestine.

And, the new U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, also plans to continue leading an international effort to drive toward the two-state solution.

Savir (2017):
Guterres strongly believes in multilateralism when it comes to peacemaking, with an important role for the UN headquarters and UN specialized agencies. While he respects the leading role of the United States, he believes in greater equality of influence between all the permanent status stakeholders and parties. He intends to consult with the five Security Council permanent members (United States, Russia, France, United Kingdom and China) on a regular basis on all international peace efforts. In this context, the latest Quartet report (from the United States, Russia, EU, UN) on the Israeli-Palestinian issue would serve him as a basis for a future two-state solution process.

Two-State Solution Is Popular

While public opinion polls are usually not good sources of information, I think it is important to drive home the fact the two-state solution does have support, even in Israel, despite what seems to be loud voices to the contrary. The Ben-Meir card, above, claims majority support for the solution and this is reaffirmed in a 2017 survey.

Zeveloff (2017):
Apparently, the the two state solution isn’t dead just yet.
That’s according to a poll conducted by the dovish pro Israel lobby J Street, which found that 68% of Israelis favor an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, reported by Haaretz.
Pundits have been sounding the death knell for the two state solution for years. That assessment has gained mainstream traction since Donald Trump’s appointment of an Israel envoy, bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, who has backed Israeli annexation of the land Palestinians claim for a state.
Surprisingly, the J Street poll found that support for two states has actually grown since a 2014 poll that said that 62% of Israelis prefer two states.
No parameters for such a solution or possible borders for the two states were suggested to respondents, making it impossible to know what form Israelis believe a Palestinian state might take.
The recent J Street poll was conducted after United States Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech detailing his vision for a solution to the conflict. Five hundred Israeli Jews and Arabs were polled.
Predictably, religious, nationalist and right wing party voters were less likely to support a two state solution than center and left party voters. But a surprisingly high percentage of right wing voters supported the two state solution, too. As Haaretz noted, two out of five Israelis who vote for the pro-settler Jewish Home party said they supported the creation of a Palestinian state.
The poll seemed to contradict another survey by the Israel Democracy Institute which found that only 35% of Israelis agreed with Kerry’s assessment that Israel could not remain both Jewish and democratic without a two state solution. Fifty-four percent did not agree.

The Role of Pressure

Looking at the previous section on solvency, Fein 2017 explains the situation is not a conflict between equals. Israel is in a decidedly more advantageous position enjoying the benefits of U.S. intelligence and military support. International pressure provides an opportunity for the Palestinian leadership to enhance their negotiating position which serves to level the playing field.

Zanotti (2016):
Continued failure by Israelis and Palestinians to make progress toward a negotiated solution could have a number of regional and global implications. Palestinian leaders support initiatives to advance their statehood claims and appear to be encouraging or taking advantage of international legal and economic pressure on Israel in an effort to improve the Palestinian position vis-à-vis Israel. Israeli construction (including of Jewish settlements or neighborhoods) and security measures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem could also have implications for final-status issues. Such matters attract significant interest within the United States and among a number of other international actors.
Current U.S. and international efforts to preserve the viability of a negotiated “two-state solution” attract skepticism because of regional turmoil and domestic reluctance among key Israeli and Palestinian leaders and constituencies to contemplate political or territorial concessions. As a result, Western leaders are left wondering if and how they can improve diplomatic prospects. Meanwhile, Israelis debate whether their leaders should participate in international initiatives, advance their own diplomatic proposals, act unilaterally, or manage the “status quo.” [1-2]

For those who claim pressure on Israel does not work, one only needs to look at the seemingly wavering positions of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has supported the two-state solution often throughout his political career but his doubts about the feasibility of achieving such a solution leads to mixed signals and uncertainty about his positions. Only when Obama applied pressure did Netanyahu appear to reaffirm his commitment to the two-state solution. It seems Netanyahu supports the two-state solution in principle but U.S. pressure helps keep the issue focused and the signals clear.

Mualem (2017):
Netanyahu has no intention of renouncing the two-state solution, which he first publicly supported in June 2009 in his famous Bar Ilan speech after being pressured by President Barack Obama a few months before the start of his second term as prime minister. Then, like now, Netanyahu announced his support for the idea but added certain qualifications, which made it impossible for the Palestinians to adopt his two-state principle as the basis for negotiations. His demands ranged from the Palestinians recognizing Israel as the “state of the Jewish people” as a prerequisite for any negotiations to insisting that any future Palestinian state be demilitarized. As far as Netanyahu was concerned, he had found the perfect formula to prove his goodwill to the world while also presenting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the one blocking all attempts to reach a peace agreement.
Even now, with an allegedly pro-settler president occupying the Oval Office, Netanyahu has no intention of abandoning the idea of a two-state solution. He realizes that it would be diplomatic malpractice on his part otherwise, so he continues to declare his commitment to the idea. Hence, in his interview with the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” Dec. 11, Netanyahu said he still believes in two states living side by side in peace and that he wants Trump to help him achieve that.

Trump Supports the Two-State Solution

The major problem this topic addresses is the nearly 70 year conflict that has been fought in the southwestern Levant region since Israeli refugees began flooding into the region under the banner of Zionism, a movement to establish a secure and recognized Jewish nation. The movement was met with armed opposition from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq and continued throughout the decades in a series of intense conflicts. The newly formed government of Israel enjoyed strong support from the U.S. which claimed solidarity with the tiny democratic nation surrounded by "enemies" but no doubt a very strong pro-Jewish lobby exerting tremendous influence upon the U.S. government has also helped shape U.S. policy. Despite what on-face looked like soft support for Israel, by Obama, cooperation and support for Israel remained strong, behind the scenes. Trump, on the other hand, is much more overt about his support. With regard to the two-state solution, Trump has been publicly ambiguous, claiming to not care what kind of solution is reached, but his focus is geared more toward addressing the issues which impede a two-state solution.

A major contention is centered on the issue of settlements. As Israel continues to annex new territories and occupy more and more zones on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, the situation becomes increasingly difficult.  Some are claiming a better strategy for the time being is to "build up, not out". It seems unlikely the pre-1967 borders can be honored, but by ceasing to spread out, the situation may be able to be stabilized. Trump, a real-estate tycoon, understands this fact.

Ross (2017);
President Trump seems to accept that logic, having told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom: “There is limited remaining territory.… Every time you take land for a settlement, less territory remains. I’m not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace.”
Here again, one can see the logic of the Bush-Sharon letter, which offers a basis for limits on settlements but also formally acknowledges that the final border between the two states is not going to be the 1949 armistice lines or the lines before the 1967 war.
There is a wide consensus within the Israeli body politic that the June 4, 1967, lines are not defensible and cannot become the border in any peace agreement. Moreover, going back to 2000, we developed with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators the concept of settlement blocs and territorial swaps to accommodate a significant number of Israeli settlers and compensate the Palestinians for modifying the border. With 75 percent of the Israeli settlers living on about 5 percent of the West Bank territory, this concept was designed to appeal to the mainstream of the settlement movement.

In fact, Trump's strategy, rather than remove pressure from Israel and abandon a two-state solution, may be to spread the pressure upon the Palestinian leadership as well. Perhaps one can learn an important lesson from the failure of Obama's one-sided approach.

Tobin, (2017):
But just because Trump isn’t demanding a two-state solution doesn’t mean he is opposing it or even that his stance makes it less likely. For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow a Palestinian state. Putting all the pressure on the Israelis was a bigger mistake than anything Trump has said. Obama didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas–Fatah rivalry made it impossible for their so-called moderates to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts. In saying he didn’t care what the terms of peace were so long as both sides accepted them, Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. The Palestinians believe that pressure from the international community will isolate the Jewish state and make it vulnerable. Trump’s refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the United Nations to impose terms on Israel — which is how they rewarded Obama for his efforts on their behalf.

The World View

Finally I would like to conclude this point of view with a look at how the rest of the world look at the two-state solution. And surprisingly, what Trumps own ambassador to the United Nations had to say.

Parker (2017):
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Thursday the United States still supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a day after President Donald Trump suggested he is open to new ways to achieve peace.
"First of all, the two-state solution is what we support. Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution - that would be an error," Haley told reporters at the United Nations.
"We absolutely support the two-state solution but we are thinking out of the box as well: which is what does it take to bring these two sides to the table; what do we need to have them agree on."

And Parker looks to our European partners and the Secretary-General:

Parker (2017):
French and British diplomats also repeated their longstanding support of the policy, in a show of how Trump's remarks on Wednesday had caused confusion.
"The UK continues to believe that the best solution for peace in the Middle East is the two-state solution," said British ambassador to the United Nations, Matthew Rycroft.
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned during a visit to Cairo that was no viable way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than the establishment of a Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel.

And of course, the Palestinians have a voice we must listen to as well.

Noy (2017):
After a senior level White House official said that the Trump administration will not insist on a two-state solution, the Palestinians warned America against abandoning its longstanding approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “If the Trump administration rejects this policy, it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member, in a statement today (Wednesday).
“Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy,” she continued.

For all these reasons and more, we urge a Con ballot.

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