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The overall development objective of the Campaign is to improve the conditions of people living and often working in slum areas and informal settlements in major urban centres of the world by promoting security of their residential tenure and a direct contribution to the realisation of the commitments of the Millennium Declaration, specifically, the goal of "improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020 ." The Global Campaign is an advocacy instrument designed to promote security of tenure for the poorest populations, especially those living in informal settlements and slums, with the goal of making a significant impact on the living and working conditions of the world's urban poor. The Global Campaign encourages negotiation as an alternative to forced eviction, and the establishment of systems of tenure that minimise bureaucratic lags and the displacement of the urban poor by market forces. Through a series of preparatory activities, consensus building, high-visibility launches, action plans, and operational activities, the Global Campaign encourages dialogue between organisations of slum dwellers and support NGOs and governments at all levels.

It recognizes slum dwellers and their organizations as genuine partners, and seeks to promote their partnerships with government at all levels as essential tools for the upgrading, planning and management of cities. The Campaign strengthens partnerships and builds upon existing local initiatives such as slum upgrading, national legislation reform pertaining to urban land, civic education, and capacity building. . It also serves as a strategic entry point for upgrading slums, regularising informal settlements, and promoting affordable shelter policies.

The Secure Tenure Campaign provides a viable mechanism with which Member States can fulfil the Millennium Declaration "Cities without Slums," specifically the mandate to improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020.

Security of tenure is an important component of the Habitat Agenda commitment to the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing. In line with this commitment, the Campaign provides an innovative, rights-based approach to urban development, it assists Governments to adopt and promote innovative systems of land tenure and land management that ensure the security of many urban poor populations living often in un-registered and quasi-legal residential circumstances. Security of tenure is directly linked to urban citizenship, as certainty of tenure can solidify the right of slum dwellers to exist in the city, organise, make claims on public resources, and co-manage settlement improvements with NGOs and public authorities. This is especially for women who often lack the right to inherit or own land Women's equal right to secure tenure unleashes previously trapped capacity and initiative, enabling women to accelerate in business and small enterprise.

The Global Campaign for Secure Tenure is designed to take forward the commitment of Governments to providing Adequate Shelter for All, one of the two main themes of the Habitat Agenda. It is an advocacy and capacity-building Campaign designed to promote secure forms of tenure for the urban populations, targeting especially the poor and those living in informal settlements and slums. A basic principle of the Campaign is that the urban poor should not be seen as passive, but should be considered as an active force that can and will actively contribute to the solution of their housing problems.

The Global Campaign for Secure Tenure therefore spearheads a shelter strategy that promotes the rights and interests of the poor, and which recognises that the vast majority of their shelter is provided by the urban poor themselves. Without the fear of forced eviction, the urban poor will volunteer in investing their time, energy and resources into improving the quality of their shelter and basic services. The Campaign particularly promotes the rights and the role of women as essential to successful shelter policy.

The Campaign should be seen as a long-term initiative that aims at promoting legislative reforms, sustainable and affordable shelter policies and the adoption of instruments that include efficient and reliable methods of recording land title, cadastral systems, as well as efficient administrative mechanisms and capacity to record and update property rights. It is expected that such affordable and practical shelter strategies will directly benefit the urban poor by effectively contributing to the provision of basic services (potable water, sanitation, accessibility) to informal and poor neighbourhoods. Security of tenure is expected to enable the urban poor to access appropriate forms of credit and directly contribute to enhance their housing and living conditions.

Central to this approach is the need for partnerships between organisations representing the inadequately housed and the homeless, and local authorities and city managers, based on extending to the urban poor a citizenship that recognises their permanence in the city. With its partners, UN-Habitat has been launching the Campaign in cities and countries all over the world since January 2000. Whenever possible, the Global Campaign for Secure Tenure (GCST) is jointly implemented with UN-HABITAT's Global Campaign on Urban Governance (GCUG).

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