Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context

The right to housing is not just a rallying cry. It, like human rights more generally, offers concrete standards that can be implemented and measured for progress. The results can be transformative and can shift us away from charity toward social justice. 

The right to adequate housing

Housing is the basis of stability and security for an individual or family. The centre of our social, emotional and sometimes economic lives, a home should be a sanctuary; a place to live in peace, security and dignity.

Increasingly viewed as a commodity, housing is most importantly a human right. Under international law, to be adequately housed means having secure tenure – not having to worry about being evicted or having your home or lands taken away. It means living somewhere that is in keeping with your culture, and having access to appropriate services, schools, and employment.

Too often violations of the right to housing occur with impunity. In part, this is because at the domestic level housing is rarely treated as a human right. The key to ensuring adequate housing is the implementation of this human right through appropriate government policy and programmes, including national housing strategies.

Focus of the Mandate 2014-2017

Deeply concerned by the large and widening gap between the standards that have been developed on the right to housing, the Special Rapporteur will focus her work on how international human rights norms on the right to housing can be transformed into domestic law and policy. Particular attention will be given to some of the most vulnerable populations: women, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, Indigenous peoples and people living in poverty. 

Thematically, the Special Rapporteur will focus on several issues of importance including resource allocation and market influence on housing, the interdependence of rights vis a vis the right to housing- particularly the right to life, homelessness, the right to housing in the context of the post-2015 agenda and Habitat III, and equality and non-discrimination. 

For more details on her priorities see the report of the UN General Assembly in 2014.   

Special Rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to monitor specific rights. For more information refer to Fact Sheet N° 27: Seventeen Frequently Asked Questions about United Nations Special Rapporteurs.


Homelessness: A Global Human Rights Crisis

Despite being one of the most visible and egregious violations of the right to housing, homelessness is not treated with the degree of urgency that it requires. Millions worldwide, in both the North and South alike, are struggling with homelessness leaving a trail of social and economic costs not easily tackled.

In her most recent report to the UN Human Rights Council, Leilani challenged governments to commit to ending homelessness by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

While the appearances of homelessness may vary from country to country, the discrimination and vilification that often accompanies the experience of being homeless is felt gobally. In her researchm the Special Rapporteur identified inequality and the conditions thatr breed it as one of the chief causes of homelessness.

The common denominator in virtually all structural causes of homelessness is government decision making inconsisten with human rghts- neglecting or failing to respond adequately to the needs of the most disadvantaged in response to crises or economic developments and allowing unregulated market forces to render large numbers of people homeless.

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Mandate Highlights

Meeting with Human Rights Committee on draft general comment Nro. 36 (right to life) - 11 July 2016 - Statement

Implementing the right to housing: a guide for local governments and civil society
English | French | Spanish

Contribute to the upcoming report to GA on right to life + right to housing, Deadline:
7 July 2016

"Homelessness is not just about housing — it’s a human rights failure" Citiscope/ Habitat III
29 February 2016

Consulta Internacional sobre derechos humanos y personas sin hogar /
International gathering discusses homelessness and human rights
, Buenos Aires, 5-6 November, 2015

Special Rapporteur’s report to Human Rights Council, 31st session, is now available in all UN languages. Focus: Homelessness as a global human rights crisis that demands an urgent global response.
English | French | Spanish | Russian | Arabic | Chinese

Special Rapporteur’s report to General Assembly,70th session, is now available in all UN languages. Focus: centrality of the right to housing in New Urban Agenda to be adopted in Habitat III
English | French | Spanish | Russian | Arabic | Chinese

Special Rapporteur

Ms. Leilani FARHA
(Canada), since June 2014

Previous Special Rapporteurs

Ms. Raquel ROLNIK
(Brazil), 2008-2014

Mr. Miloon KOTHARI
(India), 2000-2008