The Right to Housing - the United Nations

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25.1)(1948)
 
 
The right to adequate housing (as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living) is enshrined in many international human rights instruments. Most notably among these is:
 
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, click here.
 

The Internation Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966). Click here. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966)  by its States parties. The Committee was established under ECOSOC Resolution 1985/17 of 28 May 1985 to carry out the monitoring functions assigned to the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Part IV of the Covenant. States party to the Covenant are bound to specific State Obligations under the ICESCR.

 

The Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) in 1996 harnessed this momentum. The outcomes of the Conference, the Istanbul Declaration and the Habitat Agenda, constitutes a framework where human settlements development is linked with the process of realising human rights in general and housing rights in particular. Subsequently, the Commission on Human Settlements (today the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT) adopted resolution 16/7on ‘the realization of the human right to adequate housing’ in May 1997. The resolution recommended that UN-HABITAT and OHCHR elaborate a joint programme to assist States with the implementation of their commitments to ensure the full and progressive realization of the right to adequate housing. The Commission on Human Rights in April 2001 adopted resolutions 2001/34 and 2001/28.The latter, on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, requested the two agencies to strengthen their cooperation and to consider developing a joint housing rights programme. These resolutions constitute the main mandate for the establishment of the United Nations Housing Rights Programme.

 

For more information on Housing Rights Instruments click here.

 

Women’s Housing Rights

 There are now in place a limited number of UN instruments which directly relate to housing rights and women. Click here for more information.