The Right to Housing as a Human Right.

AuthorTuttle, Myrna El Fakhry

International human rights law acknowledges everyone's right to an adequate standard of living, which includes the right to adequate housing.

Many international legal instruments protect the right to adequate housing, including:

* the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 25);

- the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 11);

* the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 27);

* the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Article 5); and

* the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Article 14).

The international community affirmed the right of every individual to adequate housing at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna in 1993.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defined adequate housing as:

* housing which is habitable (for example, wind and watertight);

* housing which is accessible (for example, that meets the needs of its occupants);

* housing in which the occupant has legal protection to remain, that is affordable, and that is close enough to a school, healthcare facilities and employment.

Human rights are interdependent, indivisible and interrelated. That means the right to adequate housing cannot be separated from other rights, such as the rights to health, work, vote, privacy, education, sanitation, etc. When people relocate due to a forced eviction, they might not be able to find a job and make a living. Homeless people, who cannot show or prove their residency, may not be able to vote, benefit from social services or get health care. In addition, inadequate housing may lead to health issues if there is limited or no safe drinking water and sanitation.

Moreover, the absence of decent and secure accommodation can affect children, who are vulnerable and need care and protection. Without adequate housing, children may be mistreated and neglected and may grow up in an environment that lacks moral and material security. Also, children who do not have appropriate housing may not be able to register in schools.

"A lot of people don't look at housing as a human right, but it is," said former US President Jimmy Carter. He added:

" To have a decent place to live is a basic human right. Also, to have a chance to live in peace and to have adequate health care and adequate education, so you can take advantage of your talents... I don't see how a family can enjoy other human rights like freedom of...

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