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UN expert on the right to adequate housing launches official visit to Serbia, including Kosovo*

GENEVA (13 May 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Leilani Farha will visit Serbia, including Kosovo*, from 18 to 28 May 2015 to examine the overall achievements and challenges in realizing the right to adequate housing and non-discrimination at the national and local levels.

“During the visit, I will pay special attention to the situation of the most vulnerable and marginalized, including internally displaced persons, Roma and other minorities, women, persons with disabilities and people living in informal settlements or without adequate access to housing,” she said. The independent expert is charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, report and advise on the realization of the right to adequate housing worldwide.

“I look forward to engaging with authorities and civil society and to assess how the right to housing is implemented and what policies, programmes and decisions have either helped or hampered the realization of this human right, and what still needs to be undertaken to ensure the right to adequate housing is enjoyed by all,” Ms. Farha noted. 

The human rights expert, who visits the country at the invitation of the Serbian Government, will meet with government representatives as well as with local authorities, civil society and community organizations and residents. She will also meet with UN officials and other representatives of the international community.

During her 11-day mission, the Special Rapporteur will visit Belgrade, Novi Pazar, Pristina and Mitrovica.

Ms. Farha will share with the media her preliminary observations at a press conference in Belgrade on 25 May at 12:30 at the Media Center (Address: Terazije 3). Access to the press conference is strictly limited to journalists. She will also issue a press release from Pristina on 27 May.

The Special Rapporteur will submit a comprehensive report, including her findings and recommendations, on the right to adequate housing and non-discrimination in this context, to the 31st session of the UN Human Rights Council in March 2016.

(*) All references to Kosovo should be understood in full compliance with United Nations Security Council resolution 1244, of 10 June 1999: http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1244(1999)

Leilani Farha (Canada) is the UN 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. She took her function in June 2014. Ms. Farha is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada without Poverty, based in Ottawa, Canada. A lawyer by training, for the past 20 years Ms. Farha has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for the most marginalized groups and on the situation of people living in poverty. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/Pages/HousingIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity. For more information check: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Pages/Welcomepage.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Belgrade and Pristina (during the visit):

Juana Sotomayor, OHCHR (+41 79 444 4917 / + 381 11 62 853 4253 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org)

In Belgrade and Pristina for attention for local media in local language:

Aleksandra Stamenkoviæ, UNCT Communications Expert, UN Resident Coordinator Office in Belgrade (+381 11 2040 406 / +381 63 813 8609, aleksandra.stamenkovic@one.un.org)

Sarah Crozier, Spokesperson, UNMIK in Pristina (+318 38 504 604 ext. 5475 / +377 44 500 107, croziers@un.org)

In Geneva (before and after the visit):

Juana Sotomayor (+41 22 917 9445 / jsotomayor@ohchr.org) or write to srhousing@ohchr.org

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts in Geneva:

Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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