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Chile: Referendum presents unique opportunity to recognise the right to housing in new Constitution

02 September 2022

GENEVA (2 September 2022) – Chile’s referendum for a new constitution on Sunday will provide an opportunity to recognise the right to adequate housing in its domestic legal order, a UN expert said today.

“The referendum gives Chile a unique opportunity to join the increasing number of countries that have given legal recognition to the right to adequate housing in their constitutions,” said Balakrishnan Rajagopal, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing.

On Sunday 4 September, the people of Chile will vote in a historic referendum on a new constitution that will replace the current document which was drawn up during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship.

The Special Rapporteur has consistently advocated that States give full legal recognition of the right to adequate housing – a fundamental right enshrined in UN human rights treaties Chile has ratified.

“In 2018 my predecessor recommended that Chile include an explicit reference to the right to adequate housing in its Constitution and make the right justiciable along with other economic, social and cultural rights. Similarly, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has urged Chile to guarantee the comprehensive recognition and necessary legal protection of economic, social and cultural rights in the new text of the Constitution,” Rajagopal recalled.

“Most recently the UN Guidelines on the Implementation of the Right to Adequate Housing have called on all States to recognise the right to adequate housing as an enforceable right through applicable constitutional and legal provisions,” the expert said.

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.

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. 

UN Human Rights Country Page: Chile

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