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Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing

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

Purpose of the mandate

The right to adequate housing is more than having a roof over one’s head, it is the right to live in safety and dignity in a decent home.

Not all people are able to enjoy this right. Over one billion people live in substandard housing and informal settlements. Every year, several million people lose their home and are displaced as a consequence of development projects, conflicts, natural disasters or the climate crisis. Many of them are subjected to forced evictions. Housing has increasingly been treated as an opportunity for investment, not as a social good and fundamental human right.

This mandate was created to:

  • promote the full realization of adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living;
  • identify practical solutions, best practices, challenges, obstacles and protection gaps in relation to the right to adequate housing; and
  • identify gender-specific vulnerabilities in relation to the right to adequate housing and land.

Read more about the human right to adequate housing.

About the mandate

The mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing was established in the year 2000 by the former Commission on Human Rights (resolution 2000/9). It was most recently renewed in 2020 by Human Rights Council resolution 43/14. Learn more about the mandate.

Current mandate holder

Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal © private
Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal © private

Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, assumed his function as Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing on 1 May 2020. He is Professor of Law and Development at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A lawyer by training, he is an expert on many areas of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, the UN system, and the human rights challenges posed by development activities. Read Mr. Rajagopal’s full biography.

Key documents

Flyer: Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing (2021)
PDF: English | Français | Español

OHCHR Fact Sheet on the right to adequate housing (2014)
PDF: العربي | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

OHCHR Fact Sheet on forced evictions (2014)
PDF: العربي | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

COVID-19 Guidance Notes (2020) on evictions, informal settlements, homelessness, renters and mortgage payers. View page

Guidelines for the implementation of the right to adequate housing (2020)
PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español

Guiding principles on security of tenure for the urban poor (2014)
PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | Pусский | Español

Basic principles and guidelines on development-based evictions and displacement (2008)
PDF: العربي | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

Latest thematic reports

Discrimination in the context of housing: In this report to the General Assembly the expert undertakes a comprehensive analysis of discrimination in relation to housing and makes recommendations for its elimination. View report page | View document A/76/408 (Advance Unedited Version)

20 years Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing: taking stock – moving forward: In his report to the Human Rights Council the experts looks back on achievements of the mandate and identifies seven priorities that will guide his work.
View report page | View summary | View document A/HRC/47/43

COVID-19 and the right to housing: impacts and the way forward: In his 2020 report to the 75th session of the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur explores the importance of housing in the defense against COVID-19, and how the right to housing should be a key element of response and recovery measures to the pandemic. View report page | View summary | View document A/75/148

Latest country reports

Mission to New Zealand (10-19 February 2020)
View document A/HRC/47/43/Add.1

Mission to Nigeria (13-27 September 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/43/Add.1

Mission to France (April 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/43/Add.2

Latest News


More press releases and statements

Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Calls for input

Decriminalization of homelessness
Deadline: 30 November 2021

Call for Inputs: Housing discrimination and spatial segregation

Housing discrimination and spatial segregation
Closed. Report now published

Consultation with local and regional Governments
14 May 2021, 15:00 CEST (Geneva)

Access to Justice for Housing Discrimination
Consultation with judges, lawyers, human rights institutions and non-discrimination bodies
7 May 2021, 15:00 CEST (Geneva)

20 years SR adequate housing: taking stock – moving forward
Closed. Report now published

Activities

Social Housing in Ukraine
Key note address, 8 October 2021

UNECE Ministerial Meeting on Housing and Land
Key note address, 6 October 2021

EU must treat homeless as rights-holders, not criminals
Op-ed in the EU Observer
16 June 2021

Statement against domestic violence during COVID-19
19 November 2020

Op-ed with the Executive Director of UN-Habitat
30 October 2020

Op-ed by the Special Rapporteur in the Washington Post
7 May 2020

COVID-19 Guidance Notes
28 April 2020

Videos


14 December 2020
Campaign: Everyone deserves a safe and loving home, LGBTIQ+ included
Watch on Free & Equal United Nations

19 November 2020
Special Rapporteur speaks out against domestic violence during COVID-19
Watch on the UN Human Rights channel

21 March 2020
Call for global ban of evictions during COVID-19 
Watch on the Special Rapporteur’s channel

Former Special Rapporteurs

Ms. Leilani Farha (Canada)
2014-2020

Ms. Raquel Rolnik (Brazil)
2008-2014

Mr. Miloon Kothari (India)
2000-2008