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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 2023 by Human Rights Council resolution 52/10. Learn more about the mandate.

Current mandate holder

Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal

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

Latest thematic reports

A/HRC/55/53 : Resettlement after evictions and displacement: addressing a human rights crisis - Report of the 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, Balakrishnan Rajagopal

In the present report, submitted in accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 52/10, the Special Rapporteur elaborates on the current state of crisis with respect to resettlement of persons following evictions and displacement, which negatively affects the right to adequate housing and other human rights. While evictions and displacement are recognized as major human rights concerns, negative outcomes with regard to resettlement have yet to be acknowledged as a significant human rights issue globally. Such negative outcomes result in serious violations of the rights of those affected, including the right to adequate housing. With the present report, the Special Rapporteur aims to launch a clarion call to prevent and counteract the poor outcomes and negative impacts of resettlement in an age that is witnessing increased displacement caused by disasters, development, conflict, uncontrolled use of eminent domain, urbanization, industrial agriculture, climate change and other drivers. In the present report, the Special Rapporteur reviews existing standards in international human rights law on resettlement, its main drivers and the key reasons for the poor outcomes of resettlement and explores alternative pathways to improve the record of resettlement. He concludes with recommendations for avoiding and reducing the harm caused by displacement and poor resettlement outcomes and argues for the development of comprehensive global principles and guidelines to ensure that resettlement is undertaken in full compliance with human rights.
Contact Information

Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal
UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Special Procedures Branch, Palais Wilson
CH – 1211 Geneve, Switzerland

Email: [email protected]
Special Rapporteur on Twitter: @adequatehousing

Former Special Rapporteurs


Ms. Leilani Farha (Canada)
2014-2020

Ms. Raquel Rolnik (Brazil)
2008-2014

Mr. Miloon Kothari (India)
2000-2008

Activities

Submission to the US Supreme Court concerning the criminalization of persons experiencing homelessness
Amicus brief, 3 April 2024  

Ensuring housing affordability, ending homelessness
Side-event 55th HRC session, Room XXV
5 March 2024, 13:00 CET
Meeting link

Ending homelessness – Side event – Commission for Social Development
5 February 2024, New York, 13:15 EST
More information
Follow the event on UN TV

Domicide: The Mass Destruction of Homes should be a Crime Against Humanity Opinion of the Special Rapporteur
29 January 2024, New York Times

Replies from the ICC Prosecutor regarding the Situation in the State of Palestine
26 April 2023 and 12 May 2023

32 UN experts issue a joint letter to the ICC Prosecutor regarding the Situation in the State of Palestine and Annex
23 March 2023

Realizing the right to housing in the climate crisis
Hybrid side-event, 9 March 2023, 14:00 CET
Registration

Enshrining the right to housing in a Constitution: The case of California
12 January 2023

See all

Videos

5 March 2024
Ensuring housing affordability, ending homelessness: A global challenge - Hybrid side event – 55th session of the HRC
Watch on the UN Human Rights channel

9 March 2023
Realizing the right to housing in the climate crisis - Hybrid side event - 52nd session of the HRC
Watch on the UN Human Rights channel

18 October 2022
Stop bombing and destroying our homes: Recognize domicide as an international crime.
Watch on the UN Human Rights channel

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