The right to adequate housing is a fundamental element of a dignified life, and a pre-requisite for the enjoyment of other human rights. This right remains unrealised for many people in most countries of the world. Reports of mass forced evictions are common, informal settlements housing people in unhygienic, unsafe homes with a lack of privacy, are growing, and discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, social position, gender and disability, in access to adequate housing is common.
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Global events, such as the 2008 financial crisis, which damaged affordability of housing, and the global food price crisis which led to extensive land grabbing by States and corporations displacing millions from their homes has also significantly impacted the right to adequate housing. The financialistion of housing and privatisation of social housing, has led to housing being considered a commodity, rather than a right or a social good. This has caused severe unaffordability and homelessness crises. The global phenomena of urbanisation, climate change and mass migration flows, are also having a significant and complex impact on the right to adequate housing.
With this changing global context, the international normative framework on the right to adequate housing, has failed to keep pace. International human rights mechanisms often give comparatively little, or narrowly focused attention to the right to adequate housing.
The contemporary international discussions on sustainable development, climate change and urbanisation, a strong housing rights voice is often missing.
A re-invigoration of this crucial right is urgently needed to restore a human rights-based approach to housing, to return housing rights to the centre of human rights discourse, to advance the normative development of this right, and ensure housing rights are taken into consideration in the relevant contemporary international discussions.
Working collaboratively with other groups who are working at the sub-national, national and international levels on housing rights, GI-ESCR raises the visibility and understanding of the right to adequate housing in international human rights spaces. The focus is to push for realisation and accountability to rights holders. We play a bridging role to ensure that housing rights advocates have the opportunity and capacity to engage and infuse international human rights spaces with the experiences of rights holders on the ground.
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It is critical that the human rights mechanisms monitoring the right to housing, receive inputs from advocates working on the ground, so that the lived experiences of rights holders are reflected and responded to, in their work.
We work with partners to encourage greater engagement of national and sub-national housing rights advocates, with the international human rights mechanisms in Geneva, such as the Human Rights Council, the Special Procedures mandate holders and the human rights treaty bodies. Together, we elevate the housing rights perspective, influence the approaches taken to housing rights, emphasise the duty to fulfil and accountability to rights holders, and advance normative development of the right to adequate housing.