Council holds interactive dialogue with Special Rapporteur on housing
Tuesday, 09 March 2010 12:42


rolnikOn 5 March, the Council commenced its interactive dialogues with special procedures with the consideration of reports of the Special Rapporteurs of right to adequate housing and on the right to food. Most comments focused on the right to food. (the ISHR report on the interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food will be published shortly). The Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Ms Raquel Rolnik, presented her annual report, focusing on the impact of ‘mega-events’ on the right to adequate housing. She noted that re-development projects could be an opportunity to improve the development of adequate housing, but often also lead to massive violations of the right to adequate housing. She congratulated the International Olympic Committee for incorporating housing concerns in its bidding process, while criticising FIFA for not doing the same. She also touched on her missions to the US and the Maldives. With regard to the US she expressed serious concern about the ‘new face of homelessness’ where working poor, including many families, find themselves living on the street and in transitional housing. Regarding the Maldives, the Special Rapporteur recommended that development of local capacity involving communities in the development of housing strategies, and that authorities and private contractors should improve the housing conditions of migrants.


Interestingly, Ms Rolnik also presented information on her report on follow-up to recommendations made during previous visits to Brazil, Kenya and Cambodia, to which the former two have responded. She also expressed concern about the relatively low level of responses to communications sent to Governments.


In the interactive dialogue that followed many States asked for clarification and a definition of what constitutes a ‘mega-event’. In her replies the Special Rapporteur noted that she had proposed a definition in her statement that focuses not just on the size of the event but on its impact on people and the resulting changes to cities. She encouraged the Council to include a definition in a future resolution on this issue.


Some States recognised that mega events can have a negative impact on human rights, and the right to housing. Others, including some that have recently hosted or will soon host events, (China, South Africa) insisted on the positive effects of such events on development. South Africa in a lengthy explanation of its laws and policies also claimed that during previous large sports events hosted in the country there had been no evictions. China argued that the facts in the report regarding the Olympic Games recently held in Beijing were ‘incorrect’ and accused the Special Rapporteur of having made a ‘baseless statement’ that most people affected by evictions were migrant workers. The Special Rapporteur replied that the figures in her report did not just cover the direct impact but also side effects such as higher housing prices. She encouraged States to prevent such effects through a participatory planning process involving all stakeholders. The EU had asked how affected populations could be consulted but the Special Rapporteur did not give further details.


Several States commented on the choice of topic by the Special Rapporteur for the current and future reports. Egypt (on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement) asked why the Special Rapporteur was interested in mega events at this time and Algeria asked why she was publishing this report just before the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. These questions seemed to imply some kind of bias on behalf of the Special Rapporteur. Bangladesh encouraged the Special Rapporteur to focus her next report on the impact of climate change on the right to housing, to which Ms Rolnik replied that her recent report the General Assembly had examined exactly that issue.


Some States expressed regret that the Special Rapporteur had not received information from FIFA. In her replies, she reiterated her concerns that FIFA did not have a transparent process. Cuba was interested in hearing how international cooperation including financial assistance could play a part in improving the right to adequate housing.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 August 2010 17:16
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