Mega events and the right to adequate housing

Mega-events—such as large sporting events like the Olympic games—can be an opportunity to potentially enhance the right to adequate housing. The redevelopment processes undertaken in preparation of mega-events can promote infrastructural and environmental improvements for the host cities. This includes the enhancement of mobility, the cleansing of contaminated areas, the development of waste management and sanitation, the provision of social and cultural infrastructure, and the construction of new dwellings, or the rehabilitation of the existing ones, that may increase the availability of housing stock in host cities.

The impact of mega-events on the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing for all is, however, less clear. Numerous past experiences have shown that redevelopment projects adopted in preparation for the games often result in extensive human rights violations, particularly of the right to adequate housing. Allegations of mass forced evictions and displacement for infrastructural development and city renewal, reduced affordability of housing as a result of gentrification, sweeping operations against the homeless, and criminalization and discrimination of marginalized groups are frequent features in cities staging the events. The impact of these practices is mainly endured by the most disadvantaged and vulnerable sectors of society, such as low-income populations, ethnic minorities, migrants, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and marginalized groups (such as street vendors and sex workers).

Report: Mega-events and the right to housing (2010)

In the report, the Special Rapporteur discusses the impact of major international sports events (mega-events) on the realization of the right to adequate housing, in particular, the positive and negative legacy of hosting the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup. She provides an overview of the practices and procedures of the International Olympic Committee and International Association of Football Federations, especially on their bidding and selection process for host cities and countries. In addition, she offers some insights on the role played by sponsors, as well as some examples of positive and negative practices of host cities and countries. In her conclusion, the Special Rapporteur urges States to uphold their human rights obligations when organizing such mega-events and addresses some specific recommendations to States, the International Olympic Committee and the International Association of Football Federations.
View document (A/HRC/13/20) in all UN languages.

Resolution

The Human Rights Council adopted on 25 March 2010 resolution 13/10 acknowledging the report of the Special Rapporteur on the realization of the right to adequate housing in the context of mega-events. The resolution:

  • Calls upon States, in the context of mega-events, to promote the right to adequate housing and to create a sustainable, development-oriented housing legacy, and to strive in this regard:

(a) To integrate housing concerns into the bidding and planning process at an early stage and, in this regard, to assess the impact on the affected population throughout the process, as appropriate;
(b) To ensure full transparency of the planning and implementation process and the meaningful participation of the affected local communities therein;
(c) To pay particular attention to persons belonging to vulnerable and marginalized groups, including by respecting the principles of non-discrimination and gender equality
(d) To plan and develop the event venues with the post-event period in view, while taking into account the needs of socially disadvantaged persons for affordable housing;
(e) To ensure, consistent with the domestic legal framework and international human rights obligations, that the right to adequate housing of affected persons in the context of mega-events is respected, while giving due consideration to issues such as insecurity of tenure;
(f) To explore alternatives to evictions and to undertake any such evictions as may be necessary in accordance with the domestic legal framework and in full compliance with the relevant provisions of international human rights law, including those for adequate and effective remedies;

  • Encourages States to share with the Special Rapporteur good practices with regard to the realization of the right to adequate housing in the context of mega-events;
  • Requests the Special Rapporteur to consider, as appropriate, the issue of mega-events in the context of her work;

Related Standards

Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-Based Evictions and Displacement (A/HRC/4/18, Annex 1)

Other Publications*

Fair Play for Housing Rights: Mega-Events, Olympic Games and Housing Rights: Opportunities for the Olympic Movement and Others (2007) - Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) and Geneva International Academic Network

This publication demonstrates a clear and consistent link between mega-events and adverse housing and argues that housing concerns must be fully integrated into all aspects of the deliberations and preparations associated with staging mega-events, providing a set of recommendations to ensure the implementation of this aim.

PDF in English


*OHCHR or the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing are not responsible for the content or views expressed in publications by external organizations.