Call for written submissions – Visit by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing to France from 2 to 11 April 2019


Introduction

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, will undertake an official visit to France from 2 to 11 April 2019 at the invitation of the Government. Her visit will focus, in accordance with her mandate, on the realization of the right to adequate housing in France and non-discrimination in this context.

Who is the Special Rapporteur?

The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 Member States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.

Special Rapporteurs are selected on the basis of their expertise and experience in the area of their mandate, personal integrity, independence and impartiality and objectivity. They are not employed by the United Nations and do not receive remuneration for their work.

Ms. Farha is the Executive Director of the NGO Canada without Poverty and lives in Ottawa, Canada, with her family. 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.

Internationally, Ms. Farha has actively participated in a number of missions around the world to examine the status of housing rights and to assist in developing policy responses for the implementation of these rights. Within the UN human rights system, she helped spearhead the first resolution regarding women and the right to adequate housing. Her recent reports have covered the following topics:  homelessness and the right to adequate housing (A/HRC/31/54), the impact of financialization on the right to housing (A/HRC/34/51), the right to housing of persons with disabilities (A/72/128), human rights-based national housing strategies (A/HRC/37/53) and human rights-based approaches to the upgrading of informal settlements (A/73/310/Rev.1). Her forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council in March 2019 will focus on access to justice for the right to housing (A/HRC/40/61).

What does a country visit entail?

The Special Rapporteur is part of a system of so-called UN Special Procedures, made up of independent experts who regularly undertake country visits around the world to report on human rights issues. In her capacity as Special Rapporteur she has so far undertaken official country visits to Serbia, Cabo Verde, Portugal, India, Chile, the Republic of Korea and Egypt.

The general objectives of such country visits are:

(a) to examine and report on the status of the realization of housing rights in the country, with particular attention to aspects of gender equality and non-discrimination and the protection of the poor, the vulnerable and minorities;
(b) to engage in dialogue with all levels of Government, United Nations and intergovernmental agencies and civil society in their efforts to secure these rights;
(c) to identify practical solutions and best practices in the realization of rights relevant to the mandate;
(d) to follow up on relevant concluding observations made by treaty bodies and other international bodies and assess their impacts on policies adopted by the countries concerned.

Country visits are based on preparations by the Special Rapporteur and her team and are supported by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. They involve extensive study of topics relevant to the right to adequate housing as well as interviews with civil society organizations, experts and affected individuals before a visit. The actual country visits includes meetings between the Special Rapporteur and government officials, members of the legislature and judiciary, state institutions, civil society organizations, academics, and individuals. After the visit a report with recommendations will be submitted to the Human Rights Council of the United Nations.

Call for written submissions

The Special Rapporteur would like to invite all interested individuals and organizations working on issues related to the right to adequate housing in France, including representatives of civil society organizations, experts and academics, to provide input for the preparation of her visit.

Submissions can be sent in French or English to srhousing@ohchr.org preferably by Friday 22 March 2019.

Respondents are kindly requested to limit their comments to a maximum of 2,500 words. Reports, academic studies and other types of background materials can be attached as an annex to the submission.

If not indicated to the contrary your submission will be published on the website of the Special Rapporteur. Please indicate if you wish to have your submission treated confidentially by the Special Rapporteur and her team for the sole purpose of preparing for the country visit.

In case you want to send your documentation in a more secure way, please contact: Gunnar Theissen, gtheissen@ohchr.org, Tel: +41-22-9179321

While all submissions are welcome, it would be greatly appreciated if the submissions can focus on one or more of the following thematic issues:

(1) Availability of adequate and affordable housing in France, including access to services, and security of tenure of residents.
(2) Policies, programmes, legislation and initiatives aimed at realizing the right to adequate housing, the New Urban Agenda and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular the Sustainable Development Goal 11.1 to ensure by 2030 access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade informal settlements.
(3) Policies and programmes aimed to prevent, reduce and eliminate homelessness.
(4) Measures put in place to ensure a human right compliant upgrading of encampments and informal settlements.
(5) Housing situation of specific population groups including discrimination experienced in accessing housing or housing benefits, such as migrants, refugees, Roma, people living in homelessness, youth, women, older persons, minorities, persons with disabilities, LGTB persons and people living in poverty etc.
(6) Impact of financialization on the right to housing, in particular on the affordability of housing and on socio-economic displacement of local populations.
(7) Regulations and policies related to evictions, displacement, in particular to prevent forced evictions.
(8) Access to justice and remedies for persons whose right to housing may have been violated, including judicial and non-judicial mechanisms for complaints and the role of the judiciary in the protection of the right to housing.